Contactless card

Consumers used contactless payments more in the half of 2016 than they did through the whole of 2015, according to the UK Cards Association.

The latest figures show that contactless now accounts for nearly a fifth (18%) of all card transactions, up from just 7% in 2015. The average contactless payment is worth £8.60, the UKCA said.

In total, there were 1.1 billion contactless transactions in the first six months of the year, compared with 1.05 in the entire of last year.

The organisation said the rise in usage suggests that marketing from card companies to encourage consumers to use contactless payments at smaller retailers and for smaller purchases has worked.

"Contactless cards are firmly entrenched as the preferred way to pay for millions of consumers, who expect to be able to use them for everyday purchases," said Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association.

"We anticipate the use of contactless cards will continue to increase, particularly as charities and transport operators outside London recognise the benefits this technology can bring."

The increase also comes after the contactless limit was raised from £20 to £30 in September. That rise was seen as a big step in the future of contactless payments, allowing consumers to pay for the average supermarket shop of around £25.

Don't miss out

While overtly positive, these figures could mean bad news for the country's smallest businesses. But it also presents an opportunity.

Research released last week by Barclaycard suggested 70% of shoppers prefer to pay by card. And that is resulting in £8.8 billion worth of lost sales.

Worryingly, only 17% of the small retailers surveyed said they had plans to introduce card payments in the near future.

Sharon Manikon, director of customer solutions at Barclaycard said: “Today’s time poor, busy shopper wants to pay quickly and easily and SMEs who don’t capitalise on this demand are likely to miss out on an increasing number of sales each year. Yet small businesses can easily buck this trend by accepting credit and debit card payments, which contrary to the concerns of some, are simpler and more cost-effective to set up than ever before.”