The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, could accelerate both the value and the volume of contactless transactions, confirming that cash is on the way out and underlining further the importance to both the industry and machine players of securing the ability to provide alternative and modern payment methods.
A rule established by the European Commission limited contactless transactions to a maximum of €50 or £45 but with Britain no longer needing to abide by it, the finance industry is lobbying the Treasury for the ceiling to be increased to £100.
As well as keeping the limit more in line with benchmark expenditure items such as the cost of a tank of fuel and family restaurant meals, lobbyists have argued that raising the cap would help slow the spread of Covid by reducing the number of touch and contact points for shoppers including those while using payment machines, face-to-face time interaction with retail workers, and a reduction in queuing time.
According to UK Finance, the lobby group that’s driving the campaign, 62 percent of all debit card transactions and 46 percent of all credit card transactions in the UK are now undertaken using contactless. The value of contactless has jumped year-on-year from £7bn (in September 2019) to £8.2bn (September 2020).
Eric Leenders, managing director of Personal Finance, at UK Finance, said: “September saw the proportion of contactless debit card payments hit a record high for the second month in a row, rising to 64 per cent of total transactions in August.
“The value of overall contactless spending was also up by over 18 per cent compared to the same period last year, as consumers made further use of the increased £45 contactless spending limit.”
A leading operator confirmed to Coinslot that the debate on raising contactless thresholds is an other indication of the direction of travel and one which the industry needs to take notice of. He said: “The Covid crisis has served to accelerate the transition from cash to modern payment methods by at least five years.
“The phrase ‘Cash is King’ is simply no longer relevant. The gambling industry and its regulator need to ensure that they are in-step with consumer attitudes and able to provide the breadth of choice that consumers now demand and expect, all, of course set against a robust commitment to responsible gaming.
“Any misgivings that might have existed over security are no longer relevant and to a large extent Google Pay and Apple Pay are safer than cash by virtue of biometrics, which are used by most consumers. This is a text book example of how aspects of the current Gambling Act are not fit for the digital age.”
When ‘tap and go’ contactless cards were first introduced in 2007, the limit was £10. This was subsequently increased to £15 in 2010, £20 in 2012, £30 in 2015 and most recently the European Commission’s agreed increase to £45 in March as part of the industry’s response to Covid-19.
Updating the programming of card machines to accept the new limit is undertaken remotely.