It is easy to get the impression that we have become a nation of contactless acolytes, running around tapping our cards for everything from a stick of gum to the weekly shop.
High spending doesn’t paint the whole picture
After all, as a nation, we did somehow manage to spend £2.5 billion in the first six months of 2015 using just contactless cards. In June alone we spent £567m and skipping to August we tapped £634m away, an increase of 219.4 per cent over the year.
According to the UK Cards Association in August 72.8m contactless cards were issued, marking an increase of 2.6 per cent on the previous month and 42.4 per cent over the year.
However, one should be weary of letting all these statistics create a nebulous glow and assuming that just because more money is spent, it means everyone is spending it.
The UK Cards Association noted that 89 million contactless transactions were made in the month, marking an increase of 0.1 per cent on the previous month and 235.9 per cent over the year.
Whilst we should not jump to any conclusions – it is just one month after all – there is an inference to be drawn here that rather than more people spending money, it’s actually the same amount of people spending more money.
This suggests that despite contactless payments being undoubtedly popular, they are not as popular as some people will have you believe. There is still some work to be done, particularly in particular age groups.
Over 50s are not easily swayed
One group of people who have been circumspect about using contactless cards are the over 50s. Seven out of ten of them worry about the security of contactless payment, whilst 50 per cent believe said they wouldn’t be surprised if there was an increase in pickpocketing, with thieves seeking to make the most of the absence of PIN Codes, according to research from Saga, the over 50s insurance company.
Such attitudes clearly show that some people simply will not be swayed by arguments of contactless cards being expeditious, rather choosing to prioritise the inherent risk that accompanies them. Their concerns are far from irrational and should be addressed by those seeking to encourage contactless use.
It should also be pointed out that Saga’s research showed that those over 50 who do have contactless cards, don’t use them that frequently. Most statistics about contactless card use float around the high 20s low 30s in terms of percentage. Three out of ten people over 50 use contactless for food shops, 21 per cent use them to pay for food and drink in restaurants and just 16 per cent for coffee and cakes in coffee shops.
The last statistic is rather surprising considering the coffee shop prices are bound to be much lower than those at restaurants or supermarkets and therefore more likely to be within the contactless spending cap.
Therefore this suggests is that people over 50 still do not see the appeal of using contactless cards to make low-value purchases. This is enforced by the fact that only three out of ten (31 per cent) of over 50s like not having to carry cash on them.
Furthermore, only a quarter of respondents said they enjoy not having to remember their PINs, meaning that 75 per cent enjoy having that level of security and actually find comfort in it.
All this is meant to level the fervour currently surrounding contactless cards and show that there are still some issues that need to be addressed before the technology truly becomes appealing to everyone.
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