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September 1, 2015

Contactless limit hits £30 to fuel UK spend spree

2015 has already seen more spending on contactless than the whole of 2014.

By Alexander Sword

The limit for contactless card payments in the UK increased to £30 in a move that could affect around 3 million transactions a day.

According to Visa Europe, the increase could see an additional over £70 million being processed in total per day.

Visa claims that the biggest potential beneficiaries will be supermarkets, clothes retailers, department stores and pharmacy chains as up to 20 percent of their transactions cost between £20 and £30. Supermarkets will see an additional 1.1 million transactions a day falling under the threshold.

Data from the UK Cards Association shows that spending through the system in the first half of 2015 totalled £2.5 billion. This has already surpassed the total spend in 2014, at £2.32 billion.

Kevin Jenkins, Managing Director of Visa UK and Ireland, said of the increase:

"We believe that the new threshold increase to £30 could be the most significant to date, and has the potential to essentially redefine contactless usage.

"With contactless now accounting for one in 11 in-store Visa transactions, and Britons increasingly embracing the technology, our data shows that the rise could impact as many as 3 million Visa transactions per day in the UK, for a total of over £70 million.

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"Supermarkets, clothing stores, department stores and pharmacy chains particularly stand to benefit from the increase, as 12 – 20% of Visa transactions at these retailer types fall into the £20 – 30 category. This is an opportunity to increase convenience, improve service and deliver an enhanced shopping experience for a significant number of their customers."

The move towards contactless payments is also manifesting in an increase in mobile payments. Notably, Apple Pay launched in the UK earlier this summer, which can also be activated through the Apple Watch.

Samsung recently announced Samsung Pay, which includes magnetic secure transmission, enabling it to work in most places where a card can be used. Vendors do not need to upgrade their payments technology, as long as they take cards.

Mark Barnett, President of MasterCard UK & Ireland, said: "We expect this upward trend to persist with consumers continuing to migrate to contactless card payments and increasingly to mobile payments, as we work with partners such as Apple to enable more convenient ways to pay."

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