News & Views - Savantor

The year for contactless

Monday, 09 March 2015
According to figures recently published by the UK Cards Association, there was a huge increase in the use of contactless cards last year. Spending on contactless cards more than trebled during 2014 to reach a record £2.32 billion for the year, with the total spend in 2014 more than double that of all the previous six years combined. Year-on-year, annual spending rose by 255% from £653.4 million in 2013. Consumers used their contactless cards 319.2 million times last year, with the total number of contactless transactions increasing from 100.4 million in 2013. The figures also show that there are now over 58 million contactless cards in circulation, which is a rise of 52.2% over the last year compared to December 2013. This is split between 63.5% debit and 36.5% credit/charge cards. The average contactless transaction value, however, remained the same at £8.26. One of the key factors causing the growth in usage was the introduction of contactless payments by Transport for London on its tube and train services in addition to its buses. Between September and the end of the year, 41 million transactions were undertaken on a London bus or tube, with the result that London commuters were responsible for about 1 in 10 of all UK contactless payments in December. On a single day last week London’s commuters used their contactless bank cards to pay for more than a million journeys! Going forward, public transport systems in other cities, including Manchester, are planning to introduce contactless payments in the near future. Contactless is fast becoming more accepted as a mainstream method of payment by the public; the technology has been embraced not only by transport and typical low value payment merchants such as coffee bars but is spreading to other areas of spending; for example, charities such as Cancer Research UK and the Marie Curie Institute are supporting contactless technology for donations. The outlook for contactless for 2015 looks even more positive than 2014: not only are the areas of its acceptance expanding and becoming more mainstream and therefore more generally accessible to consumers, but also the spending limit on contactless cards is apparently to be increased from £20 to £30 from September 2015, thereby increasing both usage and transaction values. Contactless can certainly be said to be fast evolving into a mainstream payment method.
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