News & Views - Savantor

2020 - the Year of Coronavirus and Contactless

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Whilst we are all aware of the growth in popularity of contactless during 2020, figures recently released by Barclaycard have confirmed its increase in usage during the year.

In spite of several lockdowns when non-essential retailers were closed and the inevitable rise in online shopping, the total value of all contactless transactions increased by 7% last year. The data indicates that contactless accounted for 88.6% of all eligible card transactions (i.e. face-to-face or in-store debit or credit card transactions, up to the value of the contactless limit).

During the year, contactless increased massively in popularity with both consumers and retailers as a ‘safe’ method of payment, helping prevent the spread of coronavirus. Not only does it obviate the need for consumers to touch card terminals or handle cash, it also helps increase the throughput of people in stores by reducing queue times to pay and therefore reducing time spent in store.

In April 2020 the UK limit was raised from £30 to £45, enabling even more transactions to be eligible for contactless payments. Since the introduction of the new limit, the average value of contactless transactions has increased by almost a third (29%), from £9.60 (2019 average) to £12.38. Although the total volume of contactless payments fell by 11.8 % cent compared to 2019, due in a large part to the fact that many stores were unable to open for much of the year due to lockdown restrictions, the total transaction value actually increased by 7%.

On an individual basis, the average contactless user made 141 contactless payments in 2020, totalling £1,640. It is also interesting that the over-65 age group showed the greatest rise in usage growth amongst all consumer age groups, with a 12% rise in active users over the year.

The last Saturday before Christmas saw the highest daily spend using contactless in 2020 at 71.9 % more than the daily average for the year.

Contactless was already a fast-growing trend prior to 2020 and the impact of the pandemic, as in so many aspects of business, technology and home environments, has been to accelerate the growth of this trend by a means unlikely to have been envisaged at the start of the year.

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