Contactless payments are increasingly popular as an efficient and secure method for payment transactions of less than £30. Britain has received the accolade of being the most contactless country in Europe and the sight of debit, credit, pre-paid and charge cards is familiar to many and watches, wristbands, smartphones, tablets and keyfobs are widely being loaded with relevant software to offer this useful function, these applications generally need to be activated on the device before use.
For payments over £30 on a device a password or fingerprint security tool is used to ensure that the correct user is spending the amount plus the contactless cards carry the same protection as chip and pin cards so they are safer than using cash. Receipts are not normally provided without request on transactions below £30 but when the sum is over this the retailer should provide a receipt.
Whatever the device used for contactless payments the same technology is in operation, there is an antenna in the card, phone, wrist band and so on, so that when it meets with the contactless terminal at the time of payment a signal is transmitted to and from the terminal containing the transaction data. The terminal and device are only activated within a few centimetres of one another so the funds won’t disappear each time that a user passes by a till unless they are conducting a transaction and devices are actually useless to card fraudsters, the data in the card is the same as on the face of the card so they cannot benefit by trying to read data or intercept it.
The list of companies and premises that accept contactless payments is growing and even some unattended vending machines have the functionality.
Figures released by the UK Card Association for February 2016 make for interesting reading, the total number of contactless cards issued within the U.K. was at 84.2 million. 25.3 million of these were charge or credit cards and 58.9 million were debit cards.
There was a 306.8% increase in contactless spending in one year from February 2015. The February 2016 spending total was over £1,318 million and this was an increase of 19.1% on the previous month. This accounted for 159 million transactions and shows an incredible leap from July 2013 when usage hovered at approximately 10 million transactions.
The U.K. had, as of February 2016, 332,607 bank owned terminals and this was a 4.4% increase from January 2016 and 50.7% over one year. Full lists of locations that support contactless technology are on the major bank, credit and debit card websites.
The current statistic of 1/10 U.K. transactions being performed via contactless technology is expected to be superseded as the attractions of convenience and security are keenly adopted, not just in the U.K. but around the world. Retailers are rethinking their strategies because they’re finding that not being contactless is a prohibitive factor for many of their consumers, aged below 40 in particular.