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Brits wake up to contactless payments

23 August 2012  |  9488 views  |  2 Barclaycard Oyster 3

Tap and go payments technology appears to have successfully established itself in the collective British psyche over the last year, with 84% of people now able to identify the contactless symbol.

The percentage is nearly double the figure from a year ago, according to Barclaycard, which carried out the research and has been pushing contactless technology heavily. Between them, Barclaycard and parent Barclays have issued nearly 20 million contactless cards and say that these are now being used for more than a million transactions a month.

The research shows that plastic is starting to win its war with cash - 61% if respondents prefer to use cards over notes and coins for purchases of under £20. The main hurdle to adoption continues to be security fears, with 75% of people not knowing that contactless, like all card payments, are insured against fraud. When told that this was the case, more than four in ten say they would be more inclined to use the technology with fewer than one in ten still having concerns.

Behavioural psychologist Donna Dawson says: "We've been using coins since 600BC, which is a tough habit to break. Because of this, different ways to pay have the shock of the 'new', and if we have no experience of something, we fear it. Increased recognition leads to a significant trend developing, and represents the breakthrough of a psychological barrier. So the fact that we're witnessing this with a technology which is only five years old compared to centuries of cash is remarkable."

Not all the evidence is as encouraging though; Visa made a concerted effort to promote contactless payments during the London Olympic Games earlier this month, with limited success. According to the Guardian, only 150,000 contactless payments were made at Games venues - around 15% of all payments under £20. There are also strongly contrasting views on the matter among Finextra commentators.

Comments: (2)

John Candido
John Candido - Black Cabs - Melbourne | 24 August, 2012, 06:04

I have no doubt that contactless payments will eventually
rule over cash for small transactions less than 20 Pounds in value. 

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 24 August, 2012, 08:57

Well it's certainly not reaching everywhere. I had dinner recently with a friend who's in technology marketing, and I commented on the contactless symbol on a credit card - my friend had no idea what it was.

So my message to the marketing departments of the banks that are issuing contactless cards - there's still work to do.

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