Insight & Analysis

Press release: Value of contactless payments up nearly 50% in 2022

Published: Feb 2023

17th February 2023 – The total value of all contactless payments jumped 49.7 per cent in 2022, as Brits embraced the £100 transaction limit and returned to high street shopping following the easing of all coronavirus restrictions.

New data from Barclays, which sees nearly half of the nation’s debit and credit card spending, reveals that a record 91.2 per cent of all eligible card transactions* were made using contactless payments last year – a sign that consumers and businesses are continuing to shift to next-generation technology when buying and selling.

The average contactless user made 220 ‘touch and go’ payments last year, up from 180 in 2021, with the average value per transaction rising 18.5 per cent to £15.13. Even when comparing 2022 against the contactless transactions made at the end of 2021, after the higher £100 limit had been introduced, transaction values were still 5.3 per cent up on 2021’s figures.

Growth in retail, hospitality and leisure

While all sectors saw an increase in the total value of contactless transactions, spending more than doubled in the hotels, resorts & accommodation category (+101.4 per cent). Meanwhile, there was also robust growth in electronics (+97.5 per cent), bars, pubs & clubs (+91.9 per cent), restaurants (+90.5 per cent) and clothing (+82.7 per cent).

The rise of mobile wallets

There was also rapid growth in the value of mobile wallet contactless payments over the £100 card limit. These payments accounted for 4.1 per cent of the total value of all contactless transactions last year, compared to 3 per cent the previous year.

Christmas came early for contactless shopping

As UK shoppers rushed to complete their festive purchases, Friday 23 December was the busiest day for contactless shopping – the total value was 92.1 per cent higher than the daily average during 2022.

Silver Spenders

For the second year running, the fastest growth in contactless usage came from the over 65s, where the percentage of contactless users rose by 3.8 per cent. Across the UK, the regions with the largest increase in the share of contactless users were Northern Ireland (4.9 per cent), Scotland (4.8 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (2.8 per cent).

Adam Lishman, Head of Consumer Products at Barclays: “The popularity of contactless payments took another leap forwards last year. The higher £100 limit, introduced at the end of 2021, really made its mark as shoppers flooded back to high streets following the easing of coronavirus restrictions, leading to a surge in transactions. Brits are also becoming more comfortable making high-value contactless payments from their mobile, with these transactions accounting for an even greater share of total contactless spend.

“While check-out-free shopping is gradually becoming more prominent, thanks to improvements in mobile technology, in the short term it’s hard to see another payment method competing with contactless when it comes to both speed and ease.”

Category Contactless Spend Growth in 2022 vs 2021
Overall Contactless Spend 49.7%
Retail 42.1%
Clothing 82.7%
Grocery 35.3%
Food & Drink Specialist 16.4%
Supermarkets 37.6%
Household 54.5%
Electronics 97.5%
Furniture Stores 77.1%
Home Improvements & DIY 45.8%
General Retailers 40.1%
General Retailers & Catalogues 65.6%
Department Stores 55.4%
Discount Stores 17.1%
Specialist Retailers 57.3%
Pharmacy, Health & Beauty 56.5%
Sports & Outdoor 75.3%
Other Specialist Retailers 51.0%
Hospitality & Leisure 64.1%
Digital Content & Subscription **
Eating & Drinking 62.8%
Bars, Pubs & Clubs 91.9%
Restaurants 90.5%
Takeaways and Fast Food 34.6%
Other Food & Drink 60.7%
Entertainment 68.9%
Hotels, Resorts & Accommodation 101.4%
Travel 58.7%
Airlines **
Travel Agents **
Public Transport 51.9%
Other Travel 65.3%
Other 66.2%
Fuel 63.5%
Motoring 80.1%
Other Services 71.3%

About the data

This data used in this press release also includes contactless payments made via a mobile wallet (e.g. Apple Pay), which may not be subject to the £100 transaction limit for contactless-enabled credit and debit cards.

*Eligible transactions are defined as face-to-face / in-store transactions made with a debit or credit card, up to the value of the contactless limit.

**Only a very small proportion of transactions in these categories are made using contactless, and as such the growth is not representative.

A brief history of contactless payments:

  • 2007: Barclays pioneers contactless payments in the UK with the Barclaycard OnePulse card, which could be used to pay at c22,000 payment terminals across the TfL network and in c6,000 retailers. The spending limit per transaction is initially set at £10
  • 2010: The Contactless payment limit increases from £10 to £15
  • 2011: The first mobile payment device enters the UK as Barclaycard and Orange join forces to launch Quick Tap, which lets users make payments by tapping their phone on a contactless payment reader
  • 2012: The contactless payment limit rises from £15 to £20. Barclays introduces PayBand, the UK’s first wearable payment device
  • 2013: Annual contactless transactions reach £1bn for the first time
  • 2014: Barclays works with TfL on the second phase of introducing contactless to London’s travel network by aiding the evolution of the yellow Oyster card readers to enable them to read contactless cards
  • 2015: The spending limit per transaction rises from £20 to £30. Barclaycard creates the nation’s first payments fashion wearables
  • 2020: UK contactless limit increases from to £45
  • 2021: UK contactless limit increases to £100 on 15 October

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