The way we pay is changing, according to new figures – and much of the transformation is down to technology allowing us to “tap and go” at the checkout.

In September 2015, the limit for a payment that can be made using a contactless card was increased by £10 to £30 – enabling bigger payments to be made without the need to sign anything or enter a PIN.

According to industry trade body the UK Cards Association, contactless card spending topped £1.5 billion in the space of a month for the first time in March.

The new record was reached just four months after contactless spending reached £1 billion for the first time in November 2015.

Some 67 contactless purchases were made every second in March. There are around 86.5 million contactless cards in issue in the UK, including debit and credit cards.

The growing range of places where contactless payments are accepted includes Aldi, Barnardo’s, Greggs, McDonald’s, the M6 toll, London buses, London tubes and the Post Office.

And contactless has become so convenient that one in seven card transactions are now contactless, compared with one in 16 a year ago, according to the association.

So how will contactless spending affect the way we pay in the future?

Well, another report, from payments industry trade association Payments UK, predicts that debit cards will overtake cash to be the UK’s most frequently-used payment method by 2021.

Explaining why it expects debit cards to surpass cash, Payments UK says contactless spending is helping to boost card use.

In some cases, people don’t even need to have their plastic to hand – with mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay also providing new opportunities for people to make payments.

In 2014, the volume of non-cash payments overtook total cash payments for the first time, at 52 per cent against 48 per cent.

But despite accounting for less than half of payments, cash has remained the most popular payment method in the UK compared with all the other various types of non-cash payment.
The tipping point at which cash will no longer be king is expected to come in 2021, when it is predicted 14.5 billion debit card payments will be made, overtaking the 13 billion cash payments forecast for the first time.

Looking at how we use our cards, Payments UK says the average UK adult made 20 card payments per month in 2015, with around two payments per month being contactless.

But by 2025 it expects people will typically be using a debit, credit or charge card virtually every day – at 30 times per month. Nearly half of these transactions – at 14 per month – will be contactless and many will be made by using a mobile phone – experts predict.


2015 (2001) Huge shift towards pIN-less payments. Available at: (Accessed: 22 June 2016).