Contactless payment with smartphone

Contactless payment limit to rise to £100 in the UK

Image credit: Pojoslaw/Dreamstime

The spending limit for contactless payments in the UK is set to rise to £100 from the current limit of £45 on 15 October, banking trade body UK Finance has said.

The decision to raise the limit was made by the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority following a public consultation and discussions with the retail and banking sectors.

The last time the limit was raised was relatively recently – a more modest £30 to £45 in April 2020. While already in consideration for some time, that rise was expedited due to the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to minimise the amount of necessary contact in retail stores.

While the new £100 limit will be available from the October date, it will take some time to be introduced across all retailers, UK Finance said, given the number of terminals that will need to be updated to accept the new limit.

Alternatives such as mobile payments platforms like Apple Pay or Google Pay do not have an upper limit when authenticated through biometric technologies like fingerprint or facial recognition.

David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “Contactless payment has proved very popular with consumers, and an increasing number of transactions are being made using contactless technology.

“The increase in the limit to £100 will allow people to pay for higher-value transactions like their weekly shop or filling up their car with fuel.

“The payments industry has worked hard to put in place the infrastructure to enable retailers to update their payments systems so they can start to offer their customers this new higher limit.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Increasing the contactless limit will make it easier than ever to pay safely and securely – whether that’s at the local shops, or your favourite pub and restaurant. As people get back to the high street, millions of payments will made be simpler, providing a welcome boost for retailers and shoppers.”

When contactless cards were first introduced in 2007, payments were capped at £10 before rising to £15 in 2010, £20 in 2012, £30 in 2015 and £45 in April last year.

In March, Gareth Shaw, head of money at consumer research and advice body Which?, warned that the rise could make it easier for fraudsters to spend people’s money.

He said: “The risk of falling victim to contactless card fraud is currently low, but there is potential for thefts to rise if criminals take advantage of the increased spending limit to maximise the amount they can steal.”

Last February, Sunak was urged to protect the UK’s cash economy as millions still relied on it. A new trial designed to improve people’s access to cash in smaller towns and villages where electronic payments are less popular was later undertaken.

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