Barclaycard, the global payments company, today marks the 10-year anniversary of launching contactless payments to the UK.
The landmark moment has transformed British shopping, saving buyers and sellers millions of hours of time and making paying for goods and services quicker and easier.
Over the past decade, more than £60 billion has been spent using contactless cards and devices* and today more than half (51 per cent) of eligible transactions up to the £30 limit are made using the technology.
Such is the growth of ‘touch and go’ that Barclaycard research shows six in 10 Brits now choose to pay with their contactless cards and devices when the option is available and usage is projected to rise by a further 317 per cent by 2021**.
New data from Barclaycard’s Contactless Spending Index*** also reveals that nine in 10 eligible transactions in fast food outlets (91 per cent) and pubs and bars (89 per cent) are now made using contactless when the option is available. While in supermarkets and convenience stores more than three quarters (76 per cent) of purchases up to £30 in value are made using ‘touch and go’.
In the past 12 months contactless spending has continued to grow across all sectors. Clothing stores have seen the biggest jump with a 321 per cent year on year rise, followed by Parking lots (137 per cent), department stores (126 per cent), supermarkets (124 per cent) and gift, card & novelty shops (105 per cent).
Position Category Annual spending increase
1 Clothing stores 321%
2 Parking lots 137%
3 Department stores 126%
4 Supermarkets 124%
5 Gift, card & novelty shops 105%
6 Convenience stores 101%
7 Hotels, motels, and resorts 96%
8 Hardware stores 89%
9 Discount stores 83%
10 Household appliance stores 61%
11 Pubs and Bars 60%
12 Caterers 54%
13 Fast food outlets 52%
14 Restaurants 47%
15 Drug stores & pharmacies 44%
The story behind Barclaycard introducing contactless payments to the UK
The first UK contactless payments card, the ‘Barclaycard OnePulse’ was launched in September 2007. This three-in-one credit card combined Chip and PIN and contactless payment functionality alongside Oyster technology, which enabled customers to also use their cards to travel across London on the TfL network.
At the same time Barclaycard worked with retailers to update their payment terminals so that they could accept ‘touch and go’ technology. When the OnePulse card launched, contactless could be used to pay at 22,000 Oyster terminals and to buy goods and services up to £10 in value at 6,000 retailers.
The speed and ease of contactless quickly caught on with both merchants and consumers, with the technology saving an average of 7 seconds per transaction compared to Chip and PIN and 15 seconds when compared to cash.
The first retailers to accept contactless were typically coffee shops and fast food outlets including EAT and Pret a Manger where the time saved by processing ‘touch and go’ payments immediately caught on, as it allowed these merchants to serve more customers in less time and reduce queues in busy periods.
As contactless has become more popular – with Barclaycard data showing spending was up 166 per cent in 2016 – and the limit per transaction also increasing, the technology has become ubiquitous across all sectors. Throughout the UK there are now more the 106 million contactless cards which can be used to pay at almost 500,000 payment terminals. What’s more, two in five retailers (40 per cent) who accept contactless now only accept card payments or plan to become completely cash-free in the next five years****.
Tami Hargreaves, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at Barclaycard Mobile Payments says: “Over the past decade contactless payments have transformed how we shop, travel and trade, making buying and selling quicker and easier. Today there is more choice than ever – from card to cash, mobile payments and wearables. And this is only set to increase with innovations such as our ‘Grab+Go’ invisible payments concept, which allows consumers to scan and pay with a smartphone without the need to visit a physical check-out.
“Our data shows that the uptake and usage of contactless payment technology continues to grow, with paying by ‘touch and go’ now the preferred way to pay for many Brits. We’re looking forward to continuing to innovate by introducing a number of new initiatives over the next 10 years!”
Where it all began, a brief history of contactless payments
• 2007: Barclaycard pioneers contactless payments in the UK with the OnePulse card, which could be used to pay at c22,000 payment terminals across the TfL network and in c6,000 retailers. The spending limit per transaction is initially set at £10.
• 2008: The popularity of contactless starts to catch on and 160,000 transactions are made across the year.
• 2009: 360,000 transactions are made, an increase of 125 per cent year on year.
• 2010: The Contactless payment limit increases from £10 to £15.
• 2011: The first mobile payment device enters the UK as Barclaycard and Orange join forces to launch Quick Tap, which lets users make payments by tapping their phone on a contactless payment reader.
• 2012: Barclaycard introduces PayBand, the UK’s first wearable payment device and also PayTag – a sticker less than a third the size of a credit card that sticks securely to the back of a mobile phone, turning it instantly into a contactless Barclaycard. The contactless payment limit also rises from £15 to £20 and contactless can also been used to pay for travel on London’s 8,500 buses.
• 2013: Annual contactless transactions reach £1bn for the first time.
• 2014: Barclaycard worked with TfL on the second phase of introducing contactless to London’s travel network by aiding the evolution of the yellow Oyster card readers to enable them to read contactless cards.
• 2015: Barclaycard creates the nation’s first payments fashion wearables through partnerships with TOPSHOP and Lyle & Scott. The spending limit per transaction rises from £20 to £30.
• 2016: Barclaycard launches ‘Android Contactless Mobile’ and becomes the first financial services brand in the UK to allow customers to make contactless payments on their Android phone, by enabling high value contactless payments for up to £100 to be made without the need to use a card.
• 2017: Barclaycard marks the tenth anniversary of introducing contactless to the UK as more than half of all eligible transactions up to the £30 contactless payment limit are made using ‘touch and go’ and more than £4bn is being spent through the technology every month.