What will the next decade of contactless payments look like?

By Alara Basul | 14 September 2017

Contactless payments have become increasingly common in the UK. Today, six in ten Brits pay with touch and go. What started off as alternative payment method capped at £20 per transaction, has now become an increasingly common way to pay.  

And experts believe that the momentum won’t slow now. The speed and convenience quickly caught on with merchants, with more businesses than ever before beginning to integrate contactless payment methods to meet these standards.

According to data from Barclaycard, more than £60 billion has been spent using contactless cards and devices in the decade since the technology was first introduced, and the usage is projected to rise by a further 317% by 2021.

Growth across all sectors

The surge of contactless payments has spread across several industries and driven growth over the past few years. The clothing and retail industry has seen the highest growth, with an increase of 321% year on year rise. Department stores and supermarkets followed on shortly after with 126% and 124% respectively.

“Retailers are simultaneously embracing cards over cash, with two in five either solely accepting card payments or considering going entirely cash-free within the next five years – and the business benefits are clear to see,” says Adam Herson, Business Development Director at Barclaycard Mobile Payments.

“Over three quarters of retailers who have introduced contactless payments are processing an average of 30% more transactions each day, meaning those yet to start accepting ‘touch and go’ are potentially missing out on sales to their savvier competitors.”

Rise of wearables

Integrated payments within wearable technology has been the latest move to advancing contactless payments.

Tech giants Apple introduced Apple Pay in 2014 to enable users to pay with their mobile devices that are connected with their debit and credit cards. Apple Pay has since advanced its technology to now allow users to pay with a single tap on iOS apps and websites on Safari, making it easier to pay on the go.

Kerv, the contactless payment ring that launched earlier this year, aims to develop a wearable item that does not look like a piece of technology. The contactless ring is linked to a prepaid account which can be topped up on the mobile phone.

Founder of Kerv Philip Campbell believes that the contactless ring will make people’s lives easier, whether this commuting to work, buying a coffee, or paying for a round of drinks.

Barclaycard introduced bPay to give users the ease of paying without a physical card. BPay users can pay with keys, a wristband, a sticker, or even the fob that lets you in your garden. The technology gives consumers the choice of how to pay and adds an element of fun and security to payments.

“Saving 7 seconds per transaction compared to Chip and PIN and 15 seconds compared to cash, contactless makes the process of buying and selling quicker and easier for both shoppers and shopkeepers,” continues Herson.

“What’s more, with so many contactless payments options now available – in the form of cards, mobile payments and wearables – it’s no wonder that more than half (51%) of eligible transactions up to the £30 limit are now made this way.”

“Such is the growth of ‘touch and go’ that our research shows six in ten UK shoppers now choose to pay contactless when the option is available. What’s more, this trend is only set to increase, with usage projected to rise a further 317% by 2021.”

Looking ahead

Herson believes that the future of payments technology will see providers continue to seek new ways to make the transaction process even faster, simpler and more secure.

“At Barclaycard, we are constantly innovating, from trialling a contactless beer pump, to piloting a contactless ice-cream van that allows customers to pay and serve themselves an ice-cream in less than 60 seconds.

“It’s innovations such as these that enable us to help retailers stay at the forefront of payment technology while keeping a pace with customer demand.”

Kevin Jenkins, Managing Director of UK & Ireland at Visa says that the global payments landscape is evolving at a significant pace.

“With ‘tap-to-pay’ becoming ingrained in people’s behaviours, this trend towards contactless payments is set to continue. Indeed, our research shows that 72% of UK consumers expect to be using mobile or smart devices to make payments in three years’ time.

“As the payments industry shifts from plastic to digital, our mission is to ensure that every internet-connected device, appliance or wearable, can become a secure place for commerce.

“Gartner forecasts that 20.8 billion items worldwide will be “connected” by 2020 and the potential for payments between these digital devices, whether in your pocket or at home, will be game-changing. At our Innovation Centre in London, we are collaborating with clients and partners to develop the next generation of commerce experiences for consumers from connected homes to cars.

“We envisage a future where anybody will be able to make safe, seamless and invisible payments wherever they want and on whatever device they choose, regardless of time, place or channel.”