Compass Plus reveals main challenges of contactless payments adoption in the UK

  • Payments
  • 31.10.2014 12:00 am

A survey conducted by Compass Plus, an international provider of retail banking and electronic payments software to financial institutions and processors, has revealed that there are three main challenges hindering the mass adoption of contactless payments in the UK; card distribution, fears around security and regional awareness.

The survey, in which more than 700 consumers answered questions about their banking and payments habits, was carried out across the UK, in Sheffield, Nottingham, Wellingborough and London. The results found that despite industry claims that contactless cards are now widespread, more than two-thirds of respondents (70.7%) stated that they still do not have a contactless-enabled card in their wallet. Predictably, the group with the highest number of enabled cards were those based in London, however this figure only reached 37.2%, which means that over 60% of Londoners still do not have a contactless card. Nottingham and Sheffield had achieved 30% penetration, whilst Wellingborough, located in the London commuter-belt, fell behind at 23.5%.

After card distribution, the main barrier of card use was security. Nearly half of all respondents viewed contactless cards as one of the least secure methods of payment (46.8%), behind mobile payments (71.3%). 64.6% of respondents in Wellingborough feel the technology is the least secure, whilst just 45 minutes away by train in London, this figure falls to 39.2%. Out of the total number respondents that did have a contactless card, just under half of them had chosen to make a tap-and-go payment within the last month.

Although nearly three-quarters of respondents stated that they know what contactless payments are (73.6%), almost half of the respondents in Wellingborough do not (43.5%) compared to just 17.3% of Londoners. This shows a distinct lack of education around the payment method outside of larger cities, and emphasised the trend of London being the sole hub of contactless payments; not only as the country’s capital, but also due to the high profile initiatives of its city transport system.

“It is incredible to see that six years after the first contactless cards were issued in the UK, more than 70% of the country still have not been issued one. The lack of penetration is even more surprising in London, due to the high profile contactless transport initiatives that were rolled out earlier this year. When we compare these results to Compass Plus’ 2013 survey, it does show a significant increase in both the awareness and use of contactless cards across the country,” said Maria Nottingham, CEO of Compass Plus GB.  

In 2013, nearly 40% of the public revealed they did not even know what contactless payments are and less than one in 10 people had actually made a purchase using their contactless card in the previous monthAlthough this growth is promising, the current penetration in no way matches up to industry expectations. It is clear the popularity and use of contactless payments depends solely on the card issuers’ efforts to complete their rollout and education campaigns around this cashless initiative.

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