UK contactless mobile payments hit tipping point

UK contactless mobile payments hit tipping point

Brits used their NFC-enabled mobile phones to spend nearly a billion pounds at the checkout last year, a 328% year-on-year rise, according to figures from Worldpay.

With Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay all beginning to establish themselves, the number of in-store contactless transactions made via mobile devices totalled 126 million last year, with the amount spent topping £975 million.

Almost a third of consumers are now taking advantage of their phone’s payment capabilities, says Worldpay, which predicts exponential growth over the next 12 months.

Accounting for 59% of all in-store mobile transactions, the supermarket sector has been an important driver in the uptake of digital wallets, as time-poor shoppers grab groceries on the go. Pubs, bars and restaurants make up a further 12.5% of the total spend.

But, shoppers are also now starting to use their phones for higher value items. In the second half of 2017, the average spend per transaction increased by 11%, driven in part by the increase in retailers accepting ‘limitless’ Apple Pay transactions in May.

James Frost, CMO, Worldpay, says: “Digital wallets are growing in popularity every day, but what’s interesting is the shift in the way people are shopping with their smartphone. No longer just restricted to light bites and post-work pints, mobile contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular for higher-end purchases too, as manufacturers integrate more sophisticated security features into handset designs.”

With this in mind, more than half of Brits - and nearly two thirds of Gen Z - can now see a future where their mobiles replace cards within five years.

The Worldpay stats are backed up by Barclaycard, which has released data showing strong growth in mobile and wearable payments, with the amount spent increasing by 365 per cent and 129 per cent respectively in just 12 months

Comments: (2)

Giles Sergant
Giles Sergant - Consultant - Newcastle Upon Tyne 01 March, 2018, 10:291 like 1 like


Last week Mastercard provided me with confirmation that mandates were still in place which decree that every POS device in Europe must be contactless enabled by 1 Jan 2020 (not just new ones) and also, crucially, that they must also be CVCVM enabled. 

That's ‘Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method’ which is software that enables the POS device to accept smartphone payments using tokens that are authenticated (finger or face) as well as unauthenticated contactless card payments.

Whether or not the card schemes timetable for CDCVM ubiquity is implemented on time it won't be long before we're able to say goodbye to multiple rectangular bit of plastic.

There’s continuing upward pressure on the unauthenticated contactless card limit of £30 but with POS moving online there's a decent case to hold it down which would encourage migration to the most secure means of making payments at point of sale.   

Next stop 2FA on the web using smartphone authentication ... and goodbye 3DS.


Jeremy Light
Jeremy Light - pingNpay - London 01 March, 2018, 21:231 like 1 like

Contactless mobile payments are following a classic positive network effect. I expect the narrative will be along similar lines to that for contactless cards in the UK after their launch in 2008:

2015 11m mobile contactless txns, valued at £83m "slow start"

2016 38m txns £288m "not really catching on yet"

2017 126m txns £975m "Apple Pray" "where's the S-curve? it's flat lining"

2018 400m txns £3bn "tiny adoption compared to 15bn contactless plastic txns"

2019 1.5bn txns £10bn "mmmmm..."

2020 4.5bn txns £35bn "wow, didn't see that coming"

..... etc

Retailers thinking about launching their own mobile app for omnichannel shopping (and using account to account payments with PSD2 APIs to bypass card networks and fees) have a very short window to launch one before their customers are wedded to the xxx Pays. Same for Fintechs launching innovative PISP propositions.