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Pandemic drives annual surge in A2A payments and contactless transactions in UK

Pandemic drives annual surge in A2A payments and contactless transactions in UK

During 2020 the number of contactless payments made in the UK increased by 12% to 9.6 billion payments, with the pandemic driving a mass-market switch away from physical cash.

The latest figures from UK Finance show that overall, contactless payments accounted for more than a quarter of all UK payments. In the last four years tap-and-go transactions have jumped from being just seven per cent of all payments to 27%.

In contrast, 2020 saw the number of cash payments made in the UK fall by 35%, meaning that notes and coins were used for just 17% all payments in the UK. Cash remains the second most frequently used payment method behind debit cards.

Despite this, there remained 1.2 million consumers who mainly used cash for their day-to-day spending during 2020.

David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, says: "The pandemic resulted in some marked changes in payments behaviour and while it’s too early to say whether they are permanent changes, we did see an acceleration in some existing trends such as the reduction in cash usage and the growth in contactless and mobile payments."

With more people working from home there was a notable increase in remote banking, as well over two-thirds of UK adults used online banking and over half used mobile banking.

This in turn drove growth in account-to-account payments, with 54% of all business-to-business payments made via Faster Payments. The instant payment rail notched up a 21% increase in volumes year-on-year.

Siamac Rezaiezadeh, director of product marketing at GoCardless, says the explosion in Faster Payments poses a genuine challenge to the dominance of payment cards. "It seems more businesses - and even some consumers - are catching on to the benefits associated with account-to-account payments, such as greater convenience, reduced churn and significantly lower costs compared to cards.

"As open banking payments - which are built on Faster Payment rails - grow in popularity, we expect a credible challenge to the dominance of cards. You only have to look at a case like the Netherlands, with its account-to-account iDEAL payment system now used for more than half of eCommerce transactions, to see the opportunity when this payment form comes to full maturity."

Comments: (3)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 17 June, 2021, 13:421 like 1 like

For years, payment gurus have been predicting that A2A payments will dent card payments. A2A has made rapid strides in emerging markets where card and POS penetration are low e.g. India. But, in advanced markets like USA and UK where card and POS penetration have historically been high, card payments still dominate. Let's see if things are different this time. 

Even in a former market like India, while UPI A2A has grown by leaps and bounds, it's arguably not at the cost of card payments - there were 1.5M POS terminals in India when UPI was launched 4-5 years ago, that number has shot up to 5M now.

Maud Prevert-Augustin
Maud Prevert-Augustin - G+D - Munich 24 June, 2021, 14:44Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

i'm also very interested into the progrss of A2A and the potential cannibalization of cards payments, and espcecially your view on India. but are 5M POS much for the indian continent ? i looked at RBI projection for UPI and it's showing a strong increase. do you think this is valid ?

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 24 June, 2021, 15:421 like 1 like

Credit Card payments are on the upswing in India. A2A / UPI has cannibalized Debit Card and has gained additional volumes by digitalizing the payment supply chain. Virtually 100% of merchants I visit accept UPI and / or Credit Card, whether they have POS terminals or not. I haven't given much thought to the number of POS in India from a macroeconomic perspective. When I last checked, India had a digital payment penetration rate of only 20-25%, so I'd say there's a HUGE headroom for growth of UPI and I can directionally believe RBI's bullish outlook for UPI although I'm not aware of the exact numbers forecasted by RBI.