Contactless payments in the UK increased by 166% in 2016

Contactless card being used at payment terminal

It’s beginning to look a lot like contactless, everywhere you go. So much so that contactless payments have increased by 166% year-on-year, according to new research from Barclaycard.

In 2015, the increase was 164%, suggesting that contactless payments momentum is stronger than ever before. In terms of payment habits, Barclaycard’s research found that one in two (50%) Brits now make a contactless payment at least once a month. A fifth (21%) actually plan to increase their contactless usage. According to the latest data from the UKCA, there are now 100m contactless cards in circulation with £2.8 billion being spent using the technology in October alone.

There have also been significant year-on-year increases across UK cities. Manchester saw a 325% rise in annual contactless spending. In Glasgow and Edinburgh, historically cities where contactless tech thrived, annual spending increased by 308% and 267% respectively.


Unsurprisingly, London still leads the contactless charge with just under half (47%) of transactions under £30 being made via contactless, up from three in ten in 2014.

Barclaycard expects contactless spending to continue to increase in London and across the UK particularly as more and more retailers like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose accept the technology.

The card issue drew particular attention to pubs and restaurants, where contactless payments have increased by 79%. It will be interesting to see how these figures change as innovations such as contactless beer pumps are introduced.

Tami Hargreaves, commercial director, Digital Consumer Payments at Barclaycard said:

“Brits across the UK are increasingly catching on to the speed and ease of ‘touch and go’ payments, meaning that for many, contactless is now the preferred way to pay. No longer is contactless just reserved for the morning coffee or afternoon snack, as our data shows, Brits are turning to these payments for all types of purchases, from a supermarket top-up shop to stocking up on everyday essentials in discount stores and pharmacies.”

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