A record 69% of debit card transactions in December were contactless

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Nearly seven in 10 debit card transactions in December were contactless, with the proportion of tap and go payments reaching record highs, according to a trade association.

UK Finance said the proportion of contactless card payments continued to rise in December 2021 and reached the highest level on record, accounting for 69% of debit card transactions and 56% of credit card transactions.

The average amount spent on a contactless card has increased by 29% per transaction after the contactless spending cap was raised from £45 to £100 last October.

In September, before the increase in the contactless limit, the average spend per contactless payment was £11.86.

This rose by £3.44, or 29%, to £15.30 in December.

The increased limit came into effect on October 15, but it took a while for many retailers and payment providers to update their systems so they could accept the new £100 limit.

Around 415 contactless transactions took place every second last year, UK Finance said.

Some 13.1 billion contactless payments were made in 2021, an increase of 36% from 2020 and 52% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

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

Lee Hopley, Director of Economic Insights and Research at UK Finance, said: “These figures show the continued popularity of contactless payments, as well as people making higher value payments.

“From October last year the new £100 limit was rolled out and gives customers greater choice in 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, representing a significant increase from the previous year, and in December, a record 69% of all card payments were debit were contactless purchases.”

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