Spending on contactless cards in the UK rose more than three-fold in 2015 to reach £7.75 billion, propelled by an increase in the spending limit to £30 and the ongoing popularity of transit payments on the London transport network.
The new figures from the UK Cards Association mean that total contactless spending in 2015 was more than double the preceding seven years combined.
The monthly data shows that contactless spending grew to £1.2 billion in December, a rise of 17% on the previous month. There were 140 million contactless transactions in December - equivalent to 52 every second.
The data is supported by new figures from Barclaycard, which saw contactless spending in pubs and bars, pharmacies, supermarkets and on commuter transport rocket in 2015, with overall spending up 164%.
Likewise, payments processor WorldPay also reported a 160% increase on contactless transactions, with monthly payments using the technology peaking at 45 million.
Dave Hobday, UK managing director of Worldpay, comments: “Raising the limit on contactless to £30 opened the floodgates by broadening the opportunities for consumers to use the technology."
In 2020 new regulations will come in to force requiring all card terminals in the UK to be contactless enabled, however Hobday warns retailers against delaying integration of the technology: “These numbers show how contactless has moved from novelty to normal in little more than four years - retailers still on the side-lines without a strategy to accommodate this technology could be left in the dust and risk of driving loyal customers away.”
One of the biggest success stories has come from the popularity of contactless payments on London’s transport network, which has seen more than 350m journeys made using contactless since the technology was first introduced.
In January, Transport for London reported that more than 3.2 million journeys have been made on the capital's transport network by passengers tapping in and out with a mobile device
With transit payments now seen as a gateway drug for mobile adoption, MasterCard is partnering with Apple to run its second 'Fare Free Monday' campaign on the London Underground and bus network next week. Commuters with iPhone 6 devices or later models as well as Apple Watches will be able touch in and out up to a value of £28.10, the maximum daily cap for peak travel, between 4.30am and 1am the following morning.