How We Pay in the UK: contactless cards on path to dominance

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Just under twenty percent of all card purchases are now being made on contactless cards, according to new data from the UK Cards Association.

If you think that’s not really that impressive, here’s some context: last May that figure stood at a lowly 7%, meaning it’s increased by more than double year-on-year.


Total card spending growth slowing 

Overall card spending has continued to slow down in growth with May registering the lowest level since July 2013. However, even here contactless seems to be bucking the trend and with spending up by 247% year-on-year.

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Source: UK Cards Association

However, whilst the growth rate for spending is slowing, the number of purchases is clearly seen to be increasing, up by 1.1% to just over 1.2 billion year-on-year. The UKCA attributes the increase to an increased migration from cash to card, “enhanced by growing online and contactless spending, in particular across the TfL network with River Bus accepting contactless”.

This echoes what Barclaycard’s Tami Hargreave told PaymentEye: that TfL adopting contactless technology was a “game-changer“.

Spending online remained relatively unchanged from April’s data and represents a quarter (24%) of the total card spend and marks a 2% increase from May 2015.

However, the volume of internet shopping continued to grow at almost double the rate (21%) of that for all cards (11%). Online spending accounted for 23% of total card spending in terms of the total market share, with the number of e- commerce payments accounting for 12% of the total number of card payments.

The average transaction value (ATV) on all payment cards decreased by 22p to £43.31 between April and May. It was £46.93 a year ago. The ATV on debit cards dropped by 21p to £40.01, whilst there was a 25p drop for credit cards. However, it was online card spending that saw the – relatively speaking – big drop of 35p to £81.62. Compare that amount to last May’s: £86.60.

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Source: UKCA

Richard Koch, Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, said:

“Cards are the preferred way to pay for millions of consumers, whether picking up something small and using a contactless card or shopping online. With payment cards being used more than ever, we expect these trends to continue.”


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