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How UK contactless payments value grew 50% last year

The data: UK Barclays cardholders made an average of 220 tap-to-pay transactions last year, totaling £3,327 ($4,099) per person, per a press release. The total value of contactless payments made with UK Barclays cards increased 49.7% year over year (YoY) in 2022.

Barclays—which oversees nearly half of the UK’s card spending—highlighted other contactless payment trends:

  • Mobile wallets accounted for 4.1% of all contactless payments value last year, up from 3% in 2021.
  • Contactless spending grew the strongest among consumers aged 65 and older.
  • Northern Ireland and Scotland were home to the fastest contactless payments user growth in the UK.

How we got here: While contactless payments have long been popular in the UK, three factors helped fuel higher adoption last year.

  • Higher contactless payment limit. The UK raised the contactless payment limit from £45 ($55) to £100 ($123) at the end of 2021. This gave consumers more opportunities to use their cards in-store.
  • Stronger acceptance. All bank-issued card terminals in the UK have accepted contactless payments since January 2020, according to UK Finance. But more merchants, especially small businesses, have started upgrading their payments hardware, expanding contactless acceptance throughout the UK—making it easier for cardholders to make contactless transactions.
  • Increased mobile wallet use. While cards make up much of the UK’s contactless payments segment, mobile wallets have made headway: The number of UK proximity mobile payment users grew 10.7% YoY in 2022, accounting for a little over 23% of the UK’s population, per Insider Intelligence forecasts. Mobile wallets could capture more contactless payment volume going forward as players like Apple Pay and Google Pay expand their features.

The bottom line: UK payment habits are evolving as consumers embrace digital convenience and use less cash. This trend should be top-of-mind for payment providers trying to increase engagement and develop tools that appeal to customers.

Related content: Check out our new UK Consumer Payment Habits report to learn how consumers are helping shape the UK’s payments ecosystem.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Payments Innovation Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the payments industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.