Huge rise in contactless card payments

One in eight purchases made on UK cards in December used contactless technology, marking a surge in the use of the alternative to loose change.

Just over one billion contactless transactions were completed in 2015, the UK Cards Association said.

More was spent using this technology last year than during the previous seven years combined.

About half of all debit and credit cards are fitted with contactless capability.

This allows shoppers to spend up to £30 on their card by placing it next to a sensor in a shop, without the need to enter a four-digit Pin.

One in 13 purchases was on contactless during the whole year, but use grew to one in eight by December, the UK Cards Association said.

One of the most common ways to use the technology is on the London Underground network, where more than a million journeys a day are paid for by placing credit and debit cards next to sensors when entering and exiting stations.

Transport for London said it was the first integrated transport authority to introduce contactless ticketing.

Concerns have been raised in the past over security of contactless cards, although the industry said that fraud levels on contactless payments were low.

Consumer group Which? said in July that, although the risks were low, it would be possible for somebody standing very close to “lift” card details without the owner knowing. Wrapping the card in tin foil, or putting it in a foil-lined wallet would guard against this.

Every contactless card has an in-built security check which requires a Pin to be entered after a number of consecutive contactless payments, to verify the genuine cardholder.

Shoppers have been able to spend up to £30 on contactless since September 2015. The previous limit was £20.

The equivalent limit is €25 (£18) in France, $100 (£48) in Canada or $100 (£45) in Australia
The same technology is used to make payments on connected watches, smartphones, keyfobs and stickers