Over 90% of in-store transactions now contactless

More than 90 per cent of face-to-face transactions are now made using contactless payments methods, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is according to data from Barclaycard Payments, which processed over 25 million contactless payments above £30 since the new £45 limit was introduced at the start of the lockdown period, in a bid to reduce risk for card users.

The total value of contactless transactions above the £30 limit was at £900 million, with an average transaction value of £36.29. More than half (57 per cent) of in-store transactions at small businesses between £30 and £45 are now made using contactless.

Overall levels of contactless transactions were already up last year, with Barclaycard processing nearly a quarter (23 per cent) more contactless transactions in 2018 compared to 2019, with contactless accounting for over half (51 per cent) of all payments for the first time, according to the latest UK Payment Markets report from UK Finance.

That report revealed that debit cards were the most used payment method in the UK, with 17 billion payments, of which seven billion were contactless. Consumer use of credit cards also rose during 2019, up by seven per cent to 3.3 billion payments, driven partly by the increase in contactless credit cards issued last year - with 1.3 billion credit card payments made via contactless in 2019.

The number of contactless payments across debit and credit cards increased by 16 per cent to 8.6 billion. This continued move by consumers towards these payment methods may have helped prepare customers for the changes they now face due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Cash payments continued to decline in 2019, falling by 15 per cent to 9.3 billion payments, although cash was still the second most popular payment method in the UK after debit card. The number of people who were not using cash or using cash just once a month has more than doubled in two years - 3.4 million in 2017 and 7.4 million in 2019.

Young people are leading the way in this respect, although there are people of all ages who rarely use cash, seven per cent of people aged 65 or older were using cash once a month or less frequently during 2019.

Remote banking increased across all age groups in recent years. Over four-fifths of adults used either online banking, mobile banking or telephone banking in 2019 compared to three-fifths of the adult population in 2009, with 2019 being the first year in which consumers made over a billion remote banking payments.

Additionally, 48 million adults in the UK bought goods and services over the internet in 2019, as online shopping continued to increase across all age groups with nearly four fifths of those aged over 65 (79 per cent) shopping online in 2019.

Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Just as consumers are becoming more comfortable with contactless and digital payments, we’ve also witnessed this same behavioural shift with our merchant clients.

"Not only are they placing more emphasis on their payments systems, they’re also considering how providing a quick and easy payments process improves the overall customer experience," he continued. “Coronavirus has only accelerated this trend, with many traditionally face-to-face businesses switching to online and distance selling for the first time in order to adapt and grow, and it will be interesting to see how card payments continue to evolve in the months ahead.”

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