As of today, the contactless payment limit in the UK has been increased to £45.
The change has been implemented in response to the current Coronavirus pandemic. Consultation between the retail sector and the payments industry has taken place, and the UK will follow in the footsteps of other countries raising their limits.
Consumers across the UK are being advised to pay using contactless payment systems wherever possible to reduce the spread of the virus. Using contactless removes the need to touch a card machine to enter a PIN, making it the most hygienic way to pay.
Shoppers have taken heed of the government advice, with a reported a 50% drop in ATM use and cash withdrawals in the few days following Boris Johnson’s announcement.
The news will bring relief to many independent retailers whose doors remain open, as reducing cash handling and customer interaction is currently a priority for employee and customer wellbeing.
Software updates to allow card terminals to accept the new contactless limit will start to roll out during April. There isn’t a proposed deadline, and retailers should be informed of any changes to their terminal by their merchant service provider.
According to the British Retail Consortium, this increase has been in development for over two years. Due to the current economic climate, the launch has been brought forward to help in the current climate.
Stephen Jones, CEO of UK Finance, said: “This will give more people the choice to opt for the speed and convenience of purchasing goods using their contactless card, helping to cut queues at the checkout.
The industry continues to work closely with the government and regulators to support customers impacted by Covid-19 and ensure that they can pay in a way that suits them.”
Many shops are already putting policies in place to minimise unnecessary contact between customers and employees. Big chains, such as Waitrose, are encouraging their customers to use contactless where possible.
Complying with social distancing rules, customers in many stores are being asked to keep at least two metres apart. Keeping queues as short as possible is vital for stores to remain busy yet compliant.
The contactless limit last increased from £20 to £30 in 2015, and consumers and retailers have been hopeful for further increases ever since. Customers paying using mobile wallets can already make contactless payments of over £30, but card use was capped.
Initially introduced in 2007, the number of contactless transactions has surged in the UK over recent years. It’s speed and simplicity has appealed to busy consumers, who can pay in shops in a matter of seconds.
There are multiple benefits for businesses too. Reduced cash handling, increased revenue and a reduction in queue times have all been linked to accepting contactless transactions. In the current climate, these benefits are proving crucial to keep employees and customers safe.