People in Britain spent £1.5 billion tapping their bank cards and smartphones against payment terminals in March, breaking all previous records.
The UK Cards Association released the figures on Thursday, highlighting that the milestone comes just four months after contactless spending hit £1 billion, in November 2015.
Spending via contactless has trebled since this time last year, indicating the new payment method is being rapidly adopted across the nation.
The rise in contactless payments has been fuelled by an increasing willingness among cafes, restaurants, shops, and transportation organisations to adopt the new payment method. One of the first major organisations to start accepting contactless payments was Transport for London.
The rise has also been fuelled by a number of mobile payment services including ApplePay, which allows people to store a digital version of their bank cards on their iPhone and pay for things by tapping their device against a card reader, and iZettle, which allows traders to take payments with an app that connects to a card reader. Google launched its own mobile payment service in the UK this week.
Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, said: “It took almost eight years for monthly contactless spending to reach half a billion pounds — now it’s grown by the same amount in just four months. This dramatic rise shows that paying with contactless is now second nature for millions of consumers who see it as an alternative to cash.
“Contactless cards are already being used to pay for travel and to donate to charity and as the technology evolves, we will see even more environments where contactless will enable fast, easy and secure payments.”
Overall, total payment card spending for March (including chip and pin and swipe) came in at £51.9 billion, with 1.18 billion transactions in the month.
A total of 179.6 million contactless purchases were made during the month, equivalent to 67 every second. The FT reports that approximately 86.5 million cards in the UK have contactless technology, less than half the total in circulation.
The payment body’s report said one in seven card transactions in the UK are now contactless, compared to one in 16 a year ago.
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