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Coronavirus: Two thirds of Mastercard transactions now contactless

Lily Canter
·2-min read
Cashless payments via cards, phones and smart watches are increasingly popular. Credit: Getty.
Cashless payments via cards, phones and smart watches are increasingly popular. Photo: Getty

Some 66% of Mastercard transactions in the UK are now contactless, indicating the country has moved closer to a cashless society during the coronavirus pandemic.

Research by the payment network carried out in April found that 76% of Brits planned to continue using contactless payments after the current crisis.

There was also a recognition among consumers that cards were becoming the normal way to pay with 45% admitting their use of cash had decreased during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The limit for contactless payments was increased from £30 ($37.03) to £45 during the UK lockdown to prevent the virus spreading via the handling of cash.

Now one in five people no longer use cash at all and 83% agree contactless payments are a cleaner way to pay, according to the Mastercard survey.

The pandemic has also encouraged one in ten people to start using contactless for the first time.

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"The shift to contactless has been accelerating over the past few years in the UK and it is clear that this rate of adoption has increased in recent months as a result of the pandemic and recent raise in the contactless limit.

"Our technology has always been there to help navigate the change in consumer behaviours and ensure money is kept,” said Marcia Clay, senior vice president of market development, UK at Mastercard.

Three quarters of customers are very likely to continue using contactless payments after the pandemic ends, with 66% saying it is now their preferred payment method when in a shop.

A further 21% have changed which cards they use most frequently specifically to use contactless payments.

The most popular way of paying using contactless technology in the UK is with a debit or credit card followed by a mobile phone but 3% of customers are now also using a contactless enabled device such as a Garmin watch or Fitbit.