U.K. Finance announced Wednesday (July 19) that a third of card payments were contactless as of May, up 18 percent from a year ago.
In a press release, UK Finance said a total of £4.5 billion was spent via contactless payments in May of this year, compared with £3.9 billion in April. What’s more, the number of card payments continued to grow to 1.4 billion, an increase of 12 percent over the last year, probably because of the increased use of contactless payments. Card spending grew at an annual rate of 7 percent in May, the highest rate in 15 months and up from 6.5 percent in April. U.K. Finance said the rise could potentially be due to rising inflation. Among the spending, the strongest monthly increase was at pest control merchants, followed by chemists. Travel-related merchants such as foreign exchange bureaus and airport terminals also recorded an increase in payments.
Retail sector spending increased by £36 million from April to £26.2 billion in May, and food and drink sector spending rose by £34 million to £10 billion. The debit and credit card share of total retail sales was 77 percent as of May, noted U.K. Finance. “With one in three card payments now contactless, it is clear consumers value the speed and convenience of this way to pay. Card payments continue to grow at a faster pace than spending generally, a trend we predict is going to continue,” said Richard Koch, head of cards at U.K. Finance, in the release. The group also said the number of card purchases continued to grow faster than spending. The number of card payments grew by 12 percent in the year to May 2016, the highest rate since June 2008, while online purchases increased by 19 percent, and contactless payments grew by 148 percent in the same time frame.