The Coronavirus pandemic has cemented the role of contactless as the preferred way to pay in the UK, accounting for nine-in-ten of all elgible card transactions in 2020.
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 compared to the 2019 average of £9.60, according to figures from Barclaycard.
With many stores unable to open for much of the year due to lockdown restrictions, the total volume of contactless payments fell by 11.8% compared to 2019. However, with the higher average transaction value, the total transaction value actually rose by seven per cent.
Individually, the average user made 141 contactless payments in 2020, worth a total of £1,640. Looking at the 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% annual growth in the number of active users.
Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products says: “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.”
The rise in volumes is not without its drawbacks, with more than a third of UK consumers have been blocked from paying with notes and coins since the start of the pandemic, prompting warnings that the cash economy is on the verge of disintegration.
In a survey of 2,000 people conducted by consumer chamion Which?, 34% reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since March, when coronavirus restrictions were first introduced.
Which? cites one case in which a diabetic man in urgent need of food because his blood sugar levels had dropped was refused service in two restaurants that had gone cashless because of coronavirus.