U.K. Finance, a trade association representing the payments and finance industry, announced in a press release that the U.K. would raise the contactless pay limit from £15 ($17.43) to £45 ($52.29) in response to the coronavirus, which has sent waves of disruption through the world's economies as people are encouraged to stop going out, and sectors of the public sphere have to close down in an attempt to stave off the spread of the virus.
Mastercard’s divisional president in the U.K., Mark Barnett, said the increase makes sense in the long term due to the increasing insecurity, confusion and fear over the coronavirus.
“As we all collectively navigate the current unsettling and uncertain times, providing consumers and businesses with a choice in how they wish to pay and get paid, remains a constant for us,” Barnett said in an emailed statement. “On this basis we fully support the increased contactless limit here in the U.K. and across Europe, cardholders and shopkeepers will soon be able to make and receive more of their purchases both quickly and securely, and without the need to enter a PIN.”
The change was made in order to make sure people have less physical contact with payment machines as they navigate life. By increasing the limit, the U.K. hopes more people will make payments in a contactless manner, hopefully slowing the virus spread, the release states.
U.K. Finance said the change was already under consideration prior to the virus's ascent, but it was sped up once the pandemic hit last week, according to a report by Oxford Mail.
The change mirrors decisions made in other sectors of the public sphere across Europe. Ireland's AIB has nixed a plan to implement a 1-cent fee on contactless transactions during the pandemic, finding it imprudent to set that fee while a lack of human contact is encouraged. Other fees, though, will go into effect at the end of May as planned.