Contactless now accounts for nearly all card transactions

(Image credit: Barclaycard)

Contactless technology is surging past conventional cash, as well as Chip and PIN when it comes to paying for things, according to new data from Barclaycard.

Touch-free card usage became the payment method of choice for most consumers accounting for 88.6% of all eligible card transactions during 2020.

Nine in 10 of eligible card transactions were carried out using a contactless payment card during the course of the last 12 months, most frequently in-store. Even though many retail outlets were closed during lockdown periods contactless transactions still managed to grow by 7.0% over the year.

Helping to make contactless transactions more appealing was the raising of the spending limit to £45, with the average value of payments increasing by 29%. Despite having less ability to spend in-store due to lockdowns and countless closures of retail outlets, contactless users still managed to make 141 payments worth a total of £1640 on average during 2020.

Contactless payments

However, the total volume of contactless payments for 2020 did actually fall by 11.8% compared to 2019, reflecting just how much retail sales were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Consumers pushed groceries to the top of the contactless payment pile with a 29.4% rise year-on-year for the weekly shop and other convenience store payments. Contactless payments in DIY outlets also boomed, up by 69.4% with homes and gardens benefitting from lockdown measures. Even though people were travelling less fuel sales were up by 24.7% too.

Groups that normally eschew contactless payments in favour of old-school cash were also persuaded to move across to the touch-free option. Barclaycard’s figures show that the over-65s were the most likely to try contactless technology for the first time over the last twelve months, with 12% making use of contactless tech.

“We are proud to be playing our part in helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and we are delighted to see that even more Brits are relying on contactless to make in-store payments," noted Raheel Ahmed, Barclaycard Head of Consumer Products.

"We believe that contactless is the safer, faster and most responsible way to pay in store, and we encourage all consumers to take advantage of it wherever possible.”

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.