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Contactless Card Caps Mapped: UK Lags Behind Asia

  • New map shows contactless card limits in 49 countries across the globe

  • Japan and China’s £100+ limit more than three times the UK’s £30 cap

  • Poland and Brazil have the smallest contactless allowance of around £10

Expert Market, a leading B2B comparison site for card payment systems, has released a new ‘tap map’ revealing the contactless card limits for 49 countries around the world.

More of us than ever before are choosing to pay via contactless card over chip and pin or cash. In fact, UK Finance estimates that over two-thirds, (63%), of people in the UK now choose to ‘wave and pay’ over other more traditional payment methods. Contactless limits vary hugely around the world and with studies linking higher limits to more frequent spending, mapping the contactless card caps of the world can give us unique insight into the global economy.

Expert Market’s new map combines data from national banks, card providers and financial news outlets to reveal the countries with the most stringent and most generous card caps in the world.

expert market

Britain Out of Top Ten in Global Tap Battle The UK lags behind Asian countries in the contactless limit ranking, coming 13th, behind the likes of Japan, China, Canada and Australia. With a cap of just £30, Brits have around half the spending allowance of Canadians and Singaporeans and a whole £10 less than consumers in Denmark and New Zealand.

Analysis by Visa shows that increasing contactless limits can have a transformative effect on consumer spending habits. For example, when the UK limit was increased from £20 to £30 in 2016, the cashless

economy experienced significant growth, particularly within the supermarket, restaurant and service station sector. Being behind this trend could not only inconvenience increasingly tap-happy shoppers, but also have a knock-on effect on the economy.

Asia Ahead of Contactless Curve China and Japan, the world’s second and third largest economies, have the most liberal limits in the study – over £100 each. In fact, no less than six of the top ten countries are Asian, cementing the region’s position as a frontrunner in the contactless payment revolution. The relatively recent economic boom of these nations also suggests that early adopters of innovative new payment technologies, with generous limits, empower consumers and can boost the economy.

‘Tap and Go’ a No-Go in US Despite being the world’s largest economy, contactless cards are yet to take off in the US, with the nation coming 20th out of 49. The vast majority of Americans don’t use contactless cards at all and this is reflected in their meagre ‘wave and pay’ allowance of around £19. The reluctance of US banks to invest in the infrastructure needed for ‘tap and go’ could mean that the country loses out on offering customers a quicker and easier purchasing experience and hinders both card payment and economic growth in certain sectors.

Eastern Europe & South America Not ‘Tap Happy’ Yet The bottom ten most stringent contactless caps are dominated by eight Eastern European countries, (Poland, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Russia, Croatia, Turkey, Slovenia and Hungary) and two South American countries, (Brazil and Chile) with contactless limits all under £14.

Lucy Crossfield of Expert Market comments: “Countries that are slow to adapt to new payment technologies risk being left behind in what is an increasingly cash averse market. Sweden is well on the way to becoming the first cashless society in the world and contactless cards are becoming the payment of choice in most urban centres too.

“This new payment technology really does benefit consumers and business owners. For consumers, the cards provide a quicker, easier and safer way to pay. Businesses benefit by eliminating customers of the psychological strain that comes with handing over lots of cash and can even cut queue times due to the cards’ increased efficiency.

“Cash is quickly becoming an outdated and inconvenient way to pay. Going contactless is a great way for small businesses to future-proof, especially trendy pop ups that want to attract tap-happy millennials!”

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