Nearly 70% of debit card transactions were contactless in December

Nearly 70% of debit card transactions are now contactless, as ‘tap and go’ payments hit record highs, according to trade association, UK Finance.

The association said the proportion of contactless card payments continued to increase in December 2021. It reached the highest recorded level, accounting for 69% of debit card transactions and 56% of credit card transactions.

The data showed that the average contactless spend increased by 29% per transaction after the raise of the contactless spend limit last October from £45 to £100.

In September, before the contactless limit increase, the average spend per contactless payment was £11.86. A figure that increased by 29% to £15.30 in December.

It took a while for many retailers and payment providers to update their systems so that they could accept the new £100 limit.

According to UK Finance, around 415 contactless transactions took place ever second last year, with around 13.1 billion contactless payments being made in 2021.

This marks a 36% increase compared with 2020 and 52% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

The total value of contactless transactions in 2021 also increased, reaching £165.9 billion. This is 46 per cent higher than in 2020 and more than double the amount (a 106 per cent increase) recorded in 2019.

“These figures show the continued popularity of contactless payments, as well as the fact people are making higher value payments,” UK Finance director of economic insight Lee Hopley said.

“From October last year the new £100 limit was rolled out and it gives customers greater choice about how they pay for things like their weekly shop or a tank of fuel.

“For 2021 as a whole there were over 13 billion contactless transactions, which was a significant increase on the previous year, and in December a record 69% of all debit card payments were contactless purchases.”

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