Record 69% of debit card transactions in December were contactless

From October last year a new £100 limit was rolled out and it gives customers more choice about how they pay, UK Finance said.

16 March 2022

Nearly seven in 10 debit card transactions in December were contactless, as the proportion of “tap and go” payments hit record levels, according to a trade association.

UK Finance said the proportion of card payments that were contactless continued to increase in December 2021 and reached the highest recorded level, accounting for 69% of debit card transactions and 56% of credit card transactions.

The average amount spent by contactless card increased by 29% per transaction after a hike in the contactless spending limit from £45 to £100 last October.

In September, before the contactless limit increase, the average spend per contactless payment was £11.86.

This increased by £3.44, or 29%, to £15.30 in December.

The increased limit came into effect on October 15, but it took a while for many retailers and payment providers to update their systems so that they could accept the new £100 limit.

Around 415 contactless transactions took place every second last year typically, UK Finance said.

Some 13.1 billion contactless payments were made in 2021 – marking a 36% increase compared with 2020 and 52% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

The total value of contactless transactions in 2021 also increased, reaching £165.9 billion. This is 46% higher than in 2020 and more than double the amount (a 106% increase) recorded in 2019.

Lee Hopley, director of economic insight and research at UK Finance, said: “These figures show the continued popularity of contactless payments, as well as the fact people are making higher value payments.

“From October last year the new £100 limit was rolled out and it gives customers greater choice about how they pay for things like their weekly shop or a tank of fuel.

“For 2021 as a whole there were over 13 billion contactless transactions, which was a significant increase on the previous year, and in December a record 69% of all debit card payments were contactless purchases.”

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