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Value of contactless transactions doubles in two years

Almost £166bn was spent in the UK last year using contactless technology, compared with £80.5bn in 2019

The amount of money spent using contactless card technology has more than doubled in the UK since 2019, according to the latest figures from banking industry body UK Finance.

Figures show that almost £166bn was spent in the UK last year using contactless technology, compared with £80.5bn in 2019.

The number of transactions increased to 13.1 billion last year from 8.6 billion two years earlier. During 2021, 69% of all debit card transactions and 56% of all credit card transactions were contactless.

Consumers also took advantage of the ability to make larger payments using contactless cards. In October, the limit for single payments was raised from £45 to £100 and since then, the average spend per contactless transaction has risen.

UK Finance figures showed that in September the average payment was £11.86, but in December it had grown by 30% to £15.30.

Lee Hopley, director of economic insight and research at UK Finance, said the figures showed the continued popularity of contactless payments, as well as the fact that people are making higher-value payments.

“From October last year, the new £100 limit was rolled out and it gives customers greater choice about how they pay for things like their weekly shop or a tank of fuel,” he said.

There were some raised eyebrows when the spending limit was first lifted to £100. This was because contactless card payments use only single-factor authentication, which is possession of the card, although they do ask users for a PIN after a certain number of contactless payments.

The raised spending limit on contactless card payments has boosted payment volumes and value, but without the introduction of more stringent authentication, the limit is unlikely to get much higher.

Payment methods such as Apple Pay, which has no limit on spending, require the presence of the phone associated with a bank account, as well as a fingerprint or face ID.

According to the most recent figures from UK Finance, contactless-only fraud equates to 2.5p in every £100 spent.

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