UK Contactless Card Payments Surge In November

Contactless card transactions are growing in the U.K., with the UK Cards Association reporting that a quarter of all card transactions are done via a contactless terminal.

The trade group said that, in November alone, there were 325 million purchases using contactless debit and credit cards, representing 25 percent of all the card payments that month. The increase in the use of contactless cards led to a record £2.9 billion spent using the technology in November, the group found, marking an 184 percent increase from last year. In Nov. 2015, contactless spending surpassed £1 billion in a month for the first time.

“With 125 taps every second in the U.K., it’s clear that people are opting for contactless when they are at the till. No longer is it just for the lunchtime sandwich. Consumers are using their contactless cards wherever they go — for the grocery shop, in clothes stores and, increasingly, for the commute, too,” said Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, in a press release announcing the findings.

According to the UK Cards Association, there are 101.8 million contactless debit and credit cards in circulation in the U.K., with nine out of 10 contactless transactions being made with a debit card. What’s more, the trade group found the average contactless transaction was £8.95 in November, up from £8.03 a year ago.

It’s not totally surprising that contactless payment usage is on the upswing in the U.K. Contactless terminals are abundant, and contactless-enabled Transport for London has driven a large chunk of these transactions. In September, research emerged that showed 31 percent of British residents used a check to pay for goods and services during the first quarter of 2016. That compares to 39 percent who used contactless debit cards and 34 percent that paid with a credit card. The report noted contactless cards were first unveiled nearly 10 years ago in the U.K., but as of the second quarter of 2015, 28 percent of U.K. residents were using contactless cards to make payments, while 40 percent used checks during the same timeframe.