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UK sees increase in contactless card use

Surge in use of “tap and go” payment feature is attributed to adoption by transport operators and more retailers, according to a trade body

Transactions carried out using contactless payment saw a 31% percent increase in 2018, compared with 2017, according to figures from UK Finance.

According to the trade body, which represents hundreds of banks, the increase is due to adoption of the technology for payments by public transport operators as well as more retailers.

Some 6.3 billion payments were made in the UK using the “tap and go” feature of debit cards in 2018, up 29% on the previous year, according to UK Finance.

Use of contactless on credit cards is also up, with a 44% increase seen in 2018 from the year previous.

Some 1.1 billion credit card payments on contactless were made last year, valued at nearly £11bn, according to the trade body. The average transaction value spent on either type of card last year was £35.

While contactless adoption is increasing, security remains a concern. According to figures by Action Fraud, fraudsters stole a total of £1.18m from contactless users in 2018, compared with £711,000 in 2017.

In what is seen by experts as an attempt to find a balance between strong security and a good user experience, banks are experimenting with other types of technologies to ringfence contactless.

Read more about contactless payment

An example is the recently announced trial by NatWest around payment cards equipped with biometric technology to increase security for contactless payments above £30.

On receiving the new cards, customers will be able to store and activate fingerprint-based verification themselves. Once the feature is active, if the customer places their finger on the card corner where their biometric information is stored, contactless payments above £30 will be authorised without the need to enter their PIN.

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