Contactless payments increase as lockdowns eased

27th August 2021

Payments using contactless cards have increased as the UK emerged from lockdowns and consumers started spending again according to latest UK Finance figures.

The number of purchases made in May via contactless technology doubled compared with the same month a year earlier and was up 50% in May 2019 as contactless payments accounted for 49 per cent of all credit card and 65 per cent of all debit card transactions.

The figures showed that there were 1.7 billion debit card transactions in May, 43.1 per cent more than in May 2020 and 6.3 per cent more than May 2019. The total spend of £57.0 billion was 18 per cent higher than May 2020 and 8.6 per cent higher than May 2019.

There were 281 million credit card transactions in May, 50.1 per cent more than in May 2020 but 7.2 per cent fewer than May 2019. The total spend of £14.9 billion was 55.9 per cent higher than May 2020 but 14.6 per cent less than May 2019.

Outstanding balances on credit card accounts have contracted by 7.9 per cent over the twelve months to May, as a result of repayments outstripping new borrowing in the year.

There were 1.8 billion debit and credit card transactions n May, 64.4 per cent more than in May 2020 and 5.5 per cent more than May 2019. The total spend of £68.4 billion was 42.5 per cent higher than May 2020 and 9.9 per cent higher than May 2019.

There were 1,105 million contactless card transactions in May, 102.3 per cent more than the 546 million in May 2020 and 52.8 per cent more than the 723 million in May 2019. The total value of contactless transactions was £13.7 billion in May, a 91.9 per cent increase on £7.1 billion in May 2020 and 104.4 per cent increase on £6.7 billion in May 2019.

The number of contactless credit card transactions was 123.4 per cent higher than May 2020 and 22 per cent higher than May 2019. The number of contactless debit card transactions was 99.7 per cent higher than May 2020 and 58.2 per cent higher than May 2019.