The limit on a single contactless payment could be more than doubled to £100, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said.

The value of payments made by contactless debit and credit cards and cards connected to smartphones has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The regulator brought forward the planned increase from £30 to £45 in April last year in a bid to protect consumers from catching the virus.

Although the portion of contactless payments has dropped slightly due to the closure of hospitality venues, the value actually increased 16%.

The FCA said it will consult on the potential limit change “shortly”.

The financial regulator said: “It is important that payments regulation keeps pace with consumer and merchant expectations.

“Recognising changing behaviour in how people pay, as part of a wider consultation, we will shortly be seeking views on amending our rules to allow for a possible increase in the contactless limit to £100.”

Although the FCA has the power to determine the limit, card providers would still be able to enforce lower contactless payment limits.

UK Finance, the body that represents banks in the UK, said: “The industry believes that a more flexible approach could be merited in future, which takes into account consumer demand, fraud prevention, security and convenience.

“Contactless is one of a range of payment methods and the industry will also continue to work closely with the regulator to ensure that customers can pay in a way that suits them.”

There is less enthusiasm from the retail industry, however. The British Retail Consortium said: “We have concerns about raising the contactless limit, with losses from incomplete contactless payments at self-checkouts currently costing retailers millions in lost revenue.

 

“Card companies should take measures to reduce incomplete payments and we urge customers to make sure their own transactions always go through. However, the overwhelming priority at the moment must be for the government to address the rocketing card fees.”