Contactless payments continue UK rise

UK consumers made over 60 contactless transactions a second in February, according to the latest data from The UK Cards Association.

Overall, there were 1.182 billion transactions made using payment cards in February 2016, compared to 1.071 billion in February 2015. Of the February 2016 total, 159.1 million transactions were contactless – equivalent to around 63 per second.

Some £52.4 billion was spent in the UK on payment cards in February, up from £50.9 billion in February 2015. Debit cards accounted for £37.3 billion of spend, while credit card purchases were worth £15.1 billion.

The average contactless transaction also grew in value to £8.28, reflecting the impact of last year’s increase to £30 of the contactless payment limit, the association noted.

By contrast, the average value of overall card transactions – specifically those made online and in shops – declined. This indicated a change in spending habits, with consumers increasingly using cards instead of cash for smaller purchases, argued Richard Koch, head of policy at The UK Cards Association.

He said: “With more than 60 transactions taking place a second, it is clear contactless card payments are becoming ever more popular. Whether picking up a pint of milk or buying a sandwich, customers are consistently voting with their wallets and using their cards as the predominant way of paying.”

The data also showed that online spending accounted for 24 per cent of all card payments in February, up from 22 per cent a year ago. However, overall retail sector card spending decreased slightly by £15 million to £24.4 billion in February, while service sector spending rose by £69 million to £28.0 billion.

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