Fears are growing that exchanging notes and coins on a regular basis could spread coronavirus – Covid-19.
Payment providers across the UK have upped their contactless payment limits from £30 to £45 in an effort to help customers cut down on cash usage.
From 1 April, contactless limits will be increased to prevent customers having to touch cash or chip-and-pin machines as often.
Barclaycard, which oversees nearly half of the UK’s credit and debit card transactions, said it was prioritising rolling the higher limit out to food shops, bakeries, pharmacies and petrol stations.
Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments, said: ‘It’s more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of their collective health and safety.’
Mark Barnett, Mastercard’s UK president, said: ‘We fully support the increased contactless limit here in the UK and across Europe, cardholders and shopkeepers will soon be able to make and receive more of their purchases both quickly and securely, and without the need to enter a Pin.’
However trade body UK Finance, which announced the change, said the new limit could take some time to be brought in in full, as some retailers faced closure and increased pressure from the coronavirus outbreak.
UK Finance said the increase was already being considered. Contactless limits were bumped up to £30 in 2015, having been introduced in 2007. Payments have boomed in recent years, with the latest figures finding that 740million contactless payments were made last November.
This is 11.4 per cent more than the number made in November 2018. Credit card contactless payments increased 15.7 per cent and debit card payments 10.6 per cent.
A study by the trade body published last June suggested that just 9 per cent of payments would be made using cash by 2028. Cash usage has already fallen from comprising three-fifths of all transactions in 2008 to 28 per cent in 2018.
UK Finance’s figures also found a boom in contactless payments among all age groups, with three-fifths of the over-65s making a contactless payment this way in 2018.
Contactless payments have also expanded into other areas thanks to the growth of eWallets and biometric authentication, which allow people to pay using smartphones, fobs, or even rings, bracelets and shirts.
Jeni Mundy, Visa’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: ‘Consumers are looking to use contactless as they shop for the things they need, so we applaud the swift action taken by the UK payments industry to increase the contactless payment limit.
It’s an important step, one that can help protect individuals and facilitate fast, reliable and secure digital payments, and we stand ready to support the implementation with retailers and our clients.
‘What’s more, consumers can rest assured that contactless cards experience among the lowest fraud rates of any payment type.’
Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: ‘The payments industry has been working closely with retailers to be able to increase the contactless payment limit to help customers with their shopping at this critical time for the country.
‘This will give more people the choice to opt for the speed and convenience of purchasing goods using their contactless card, helping to cut queues at the checkout.’
These unprecedented times may feel strange, and you’re not alone if you’re concerned about how you can keep the money rolling in.
Looking after every single penny is paramount, and there is no better way to start than with a review of your payment systems.
We can sort that out for you. We can make it work.
Direct Pay – Future Proofing the Present, One Payment at a Time.