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More Options Boost UK Proximity Mobile Payments

Gains come as availability spreads beyond iPhone users

August 21, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

The mainstreaming of proximity mobile payments in the UK accelerated in the first six months of 2017, with the value and volume of transactions up by triple and double digits, respectively.

The value of proximity mobile payments in the UK surged 336% from a year earlier to £370 million ($499 million) in 2017’s first half, according to transaction data from payments processor Worldpay.

On a monthly basis, spending rose 57% during the period, climbing from £46 million (approximately $62 million) in January to £74 million (nearly $100 million) in June. Proximity mobile payments’ share of in-store transactions swelled to 2.04% in June, vs. 1.18% in December 2016; they also represented 5.5% of all contactless payments in the UK.

Worldpay attributed quickening growth of in-store payments to their spread beyond early adopters and to areas outside of London.

In the first half of 2016, proximity mobile payments were an option largely limited to iPhone users in the UK. But by June of this year, thanks to the rollout of Android Pay and Samsung Pay for Android phone users in September 2016 and May 2017, respectively, the country’s potential user base for proximity mobile payments had expanded by at least 50%, according to eMarketer’s estimates of UK smartphone user share by operating system.

UK Smartphone User Share, by OS, 2015-2019 (% of total)

Wider availability of proximity mobile payment systems among Android users is likely to have played a role in spreading usage beyond London, where the ability to pay for rides on the city’s mass transit system using Apple Pay was a driving force in user adoption.

According to Worldpay’s data, London’s share of UK proximity mobile payment transactions dipped to 28% in H1, down from 32% at the end of 2016.

Apple is likely to have helped proximity mobile payments’ cause, too, by removing the £30 limit on Apple Pay purchases in May of this year.

—Cliff Annicelli

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