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Britons used contactless for 42% of card payments in 2017

Paymentsense survey confirms rapid growth of contactless payments, but £30 limit is preventing further dominance

More than 40% of card purchases in the UK last year used contactless technology, and London led the way.

A survey by Paymentsense, which helps small businesses to implement digital payment services, found there were more than 290 million card transactions in the UK in 2017. London was well ahead of other cities with 59 million transactions, and Birmingham was second with 10 million. 

The survey revealed that 57% of purchases in the capital were contactless, but Bristol recorded the highest figure for contactless – 60%. 

Chaif Badr, head of digital and tech at Paymentsense, described the UK average of 42% contactless payments as “astounding” and added: “This will only increase in the coming years, with smart devices such as phones and mobiles allowing us to pay without cards.”

In June last year, research by payment giant Visa found that London had the highest percentage of people in the UK (78%) who had used contactless since it was introduced in 2007. The survey also revealed that millennials made the most contactless purchases (76%) of any age group.

Paymentsense’s Badr said contactless payments grew by 30% in 2017, but the £30 cap is preventing the technology dominating card purchases.

“Contactless payments have been growing excessively over recent years and the amount of contactless cards passed 108 million as of April 2017,” he said.

Read more about contactless payments

“However, unless the [payment] limit is increased, it would be quite hard for contactless to contribute to the majority of card transactions as there is a significant volume coming from everyday transactions above the £30 limit.”

Mobile phones are increasingly becoming a tool for contactless payments, according to Worldpay. The company found that in the first six months of 2017, purchases worth £370 million were made using these devices – 336% up on the figure for the equivalent period in 2016.

A survey by Mastercard has found that 25% of Britons are ready to use wearable devices, such as rings and bracelets, to make purchases. The company began an initiative with Dutch bank ABN AMRO in January this year to cater for customer demands across Europe for more convenient contactless payments.

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