Where we pay in the UK: Contactless

corner of a Visa contactless card

We take a quick look at recent data from Barclaycard that shows where the British public liked to pay using contactless payments.


Location, location, location

Looking at the UK as a whole, Manchester is the surprise package, having the biggest increase in contactless usage – an impressive 247% annual increase. The city is closely followed by Glasgow with 243% per cent annual increase. Edinburgh was also at the higher end in the table with 206% increase.

The two Scottish cities’ massive increase in contactless spending is the first major example of the country’s concerted effort to move to newer digital payment methods. In January, the UK’s biggest bus operators, including the Perth-based Stagecoach have set to achieve the ambitious target of having contactless travel on every bus in Britain by 2022. Robert Montgomery, Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director said then: “This contactless initiative would be the biggest smart ticketing project ever delivered in Britain and a major milestone in providing simpler travel for the millions of people who rely on buses.”

Although the bank isn’t working with Android Pay, the service should still give contactless payments a further boost in Scotland with Bank of Scotland working with the recently launched payment service.

Other major increases included Cardiff (206%) and Blackpool (205%).


London still top

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that London is still on top, with with with over a third (36%) of eligible transactions (those up to £30) made contactlessly, up from three-in-ten two years ago. Unsurprisingly, the city’s advanced transport network is still the major driver of contactless transactions. Barclaycard said that with the number of businesses outside the capital continuing to adopt the technology the level of growth is expected to increase rapidly across the UK in 2016.


Contactless payments love a bargain

In terms of location categories, none saw a higher increase in contactless spending than discount stores (431%). This is actually quite interesting because it is probably the most explicit example of people beginning to use contactless payments to make low-value payments. As we said before, this is actually having quite a seismic effect on people’s paying behaviour. People are spending less, but shopping more frequently -a pattern especially evident in food shops. In supermarkets contactless spending has increased by 133%, whilst cafes and restaurants by 125%.

At the time of publication, 83% of people who took our poll on the matter have said that they top-up throughout the week rather than make one big weekly shop. Cast your vote too!

Supermarket increase was matched by an increase in contactless spending in department stores whilst candy and confectionery stores saw a whopping of 227%.

a table showing where people in the UK spend using contactless payments


‘Every second counts for today’s busy shopper’

“Whether we’re stocking up on a few essentials on the way home from work, filling the car with fuel, or ordering a round of drinks in a busy bar on a Friday night – every second counts for today’s busy shopper. We expect this upward trend in contactless spending to continue to go from strength to strength throughout the rest of 2016,” said Adam Herson, Product Director at Barclaycard.

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