Nine in 10 Eligible Card Transactions Made Using Contactless in 2020, Barclaycard Data Reveals

  • Payments
  • 22.01.2021 01:06 pm

New data from Barclaycard reveals that contactless technology has emerged as one of the big winners of 2020, accounting for 88.6 per cent of all eligible card transactions*.

As the safest, fastest and most responsible way to pay in-store, tap-and-go has become the obvious choice for both consumers and businesses, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Not only does it allow consumers to pay without touching card terminals or handling cash, it also helps reduce the volume of people in stores by reducing queue times – contactless transactions are, on average, seven seconds faster than Chip and PIN, and 15 seconds faster than cash.

The biggest milestone for the technology was in April, when the UK limit was raised from £30 to £45, making even more transactions eligible for contactless payments. Since the introduction of the new limit, the average value of contactless transactions has jumped to £12.38, up almost a third (29 per cent) compared to the 2019 average of £9.60.

With many stores unable to open for much of the year due to lockdown restrictions, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the total volume of contactless payments fell by 11.8 per cent compared to 2019. However, with the higher average transaction value, the total transaction value actually rose by 7.0 per cent.

Grocery stores saw a significant growth in contactless users, with payments up 29.4 per cent year-on-year, with the sector benefitting from the £45 limit enabling more cardholders to pay for their shop using the technology. Increases were also seen across home improvement & DIY (up 69.41 per cent) as Brits sought to spruce up their homes and gardens, and fuel (up 24.7 per cent).

Individually, the average contactless user made 141 contactless payments in 2020, worth a total of £1,640. Looking at the contactless spending habits of different age groups, the over-65s were most likely to embrace the technology for the first time, with the age-group seeing a 12 per cent annual growth in the number of active users.

The biggest day for contactless in 2020 was Saturday 19 December, the last Saturday before Christmas, which saw 71.9 per cent more contactless spend than the daily average for the year, likely due to people out buying last-minute Christmas presents.

Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products, said: “We are proud to be playing our part in helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and we are delighted to see that even more Brits are relying on contactless to make in-store payments. We believe that contactless is the safer, faster and most responsible way to pay in store, and we encourage all consumers to take advantage of it wherever possible.”


* Eligible transactions are defined as face-to-face / in-store transactions made with a credit or debit card, up to the value of the contactless limit – i.e. £30 prior to April 2020, and £45 after April 2020.

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