Following an adjustment to the upper limit on contactless card transactions from £20 to £30 last September, transactions between £20 and £30 have grown nearly 20 per cent, and transactions below £20 have grown even more. Indeed, 36 million contactless payments have been executed since then to the tune of £900 million. Transactions between £20 and £30 now account for 10 per cent of all of the physical card transactions within those limits.

Supermarkets, restaurants and pubs

These bastions of daily spending have enjoyed a surge of contactless transactions. Supermarkets and restaurants have seen an increase of 100 per cent and 155 per cent, respectively.

One report puts contactless growth in bars and pubs at as much as 30 per cent a each week, though below the £20 threshold the growth has been less explosive at the Red Lions of the world. Pub-goers appear to be making significantly more expenditures above the previous limit.

Increased adoption

The adoption of contactless systems by London’s transport network and national retailers has supported their acceptance by the British buying public. Kevin Jenkins, managing director of UK & Ireland for Visa Europe, told Tech Week Europe that the new, higher limit means that ‘families are now able to do their weekly supermarket shop and pay contactless; the increase has driven a demonstrable shift in consumer behaviour’.

Take-up has been particularly energetic by consumers over the age of sixty. The use of contactless technology has gone up by 116% in this bracket, the most out of any age group.


Sweden and Denmark have signalled their intention to go cashless at some point, and while the risk of fraud in the sphere of sub-£30 transactions is rather low – may we suggest having a look at the terminal before you place your card, or someone else places it for you – improvements in anti-forgery technology means that certain transactions are actually safer now when effected in physical currency. The FT reasonably asks whether it is easier to hire someone to guard a cash transfer or to gather a team sophisticated enough to thwart a barrage of cyberattacks aimed at diverting digital proceeds. Indeed, the demise of cash worldwide is not an idea whose time has come, despite what you may have heard.