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UK Contactless Card Payments Reach New Heights

Record-setting spending in November

January 23, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

A quarter of all UK credit and debit card transactions were contactless in November, propelling spending by that payment method to a new record.

UK Internet Users' Preferred Payment Methods, by Age, June 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

According to The UK Cards Association, 325 million purchases were made in the UK in November 2016 using cards' contactless option, accounting for 25% of all card payments during the period.

All told, the UK's increasingly tap-happy consumers spent a record £2.9 billion ($3.91 billion) via contactless card payments in November, up 184% from a year earlier. The average transaction value rose to £8.95 ($12.08), up from £8.03 ($10.84) in November 2015.

"With 125 taps every second in the UK, it's clear that people are opting for contactless when they are at the till," said Richard Koch, The UK Cards Association's head of policy. "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."

Contactless card payments have been particularly popular among younger, tech-savvy adults in the UK. In a June 2016 survey of UK internet users ages 18 and older by YouGov, nearly half of millennial and Gen X respondents said contactless cards were their preferred payment method for general shopping. Approximately three in 10 respondents ages 55 and older said the same.

There are 101.8 million contactless debit and credit cards in circulation in the UK, according to The UK Cards Association.

Payments UK forecasts that the value of contactless card transactions in the UK will reach £9.46 billion ($12.77 billion) in 2025, up from £1.05 billion ($1.42 billion) in 2015.

—Cliff Annicelli

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