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UK to increase contactless limit from £30 to £45, what does this mean for the future cashless society.

The decision to raise the limit was taken following consultation between the retail sector and the finance and payments industry and follows similar increases in several other European countries over the past week.

The changes were already under consideration by the industry, but the process has said to be fast tracked in response to the Covid-19 outbreak to support consumers who choose to pay using contactless at this time.

There is much talk at the moment, around moving to a cashless society and the danger of paper/plastic banknotes. Admittedly much of this is driven from those within the fintech payments space that are positioned to benefit from a sigmec shift towards mobile and digital payments.

Today the UK announces a further increase in the contact limit from £30 to £45, what does this mean for the future and is this a good or bad thing given the current circumstances?

Here is what some of the leaders of the industry are saying, as usual it’s pretty much a canned response from the usual suspects but what about the more candid views from some of the leading wearable tech and mobile payment companies?

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments said:

“It’s more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of their collective health and safety. We are proud to be taking a leadership position in the UK by commencing the deployment of a higher contactless threshold. By supporting the ability of customers to spend up to £45 via contactless, we are playing a part in helping UK consumers to pay safely and securely in these challenging times”


Daniel Blondell of McLEAR the payments ring company said:

‘’Whilst we all try and get used to social distancing and the unprecedented times that we find ourselves living in; health and safety is front and centre of our minds and how we do this has never been more important. We all want and need to be able to pay both safely and securely and the increase in the contactless limit will help us do just that. Paying for essential items without the need to use our hands to enter our PIN, touch our phones or limit the handling of our wallets will help reduce the spread, is the hope, the need…..  Raising the contactless limit will allow everyone to shop safely and with peace of mind, who would have thought that contactless technology would play such an important role in our lives’’


Jeremy Nicholds, CEO, Judopay the mobile payments company said:

“Cash is a dirty means of payment and we’ve known that for some time, and it’s understandable that people are cautious about PIN pads / buttons currently, so the decision by the card schemes/banks to encourage the shift to contactless by upping the card limit to £45 is very welcome. Of course an even better solution is for consumers to start using Apple Pay or Google Pay as there is no limit on the transaction,  its more secure, and arguably more hygienic. Then as well as the convenience of better contactless payments they’d have a better, faster and more secure mCommerce experience”.  

Mark Barnett, Divisional President of Mastercard in the UK, said:

“As we all collectively navigate the current unsettling and uncertain times, providing consumers and businesses with a choice in how they wish to pay and get paid, remains a constant for us. On this basis we fully support the increased contactless limit here in the UK and across Europe, cardholders and shopkeepers will soon be able to make and receive more of their purchases both quickly and securely, and without the need to enter a PIN.” 



Mark Walker, Editorial Director of The Fintech Times, said:

“While the limit increase is welcome to many already using contactless and those concerned about the transfer of infection via bank notes, it will encourage even more people to reduce the cash they use and gives more ammunition to high street stores looking to reduce or stop the handling of cash for operational reasons. We still need to consider both the increased fraud risk and the much larger risk of financial exclusion in our society.


From 1 April 2020, consumers will begin to see an increasing number of retailers accepting contactless card payments up to the new £45 limit. Given the pace at which this change is being rolled out, the new limits will take some time to be introduced across all retailers, including some of those facing additional pressure due to the Covid-19 outbreak.


A brief history of contactless payments

  • 2007: Barclaycard pioneers contactless payments in the UK with the 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: Barclaycard introduces PayBand, the UK’s first wearable payment device and also PayTag – a sticker less than a third the size of a credit card that sticks securely to the back of a mobile phone, turning it instantly into a contactless Barclaycard. The contactless payment limit also rises from £15 to £20 and contactless can also been used to pay for travel on London’s 8,500 buses.
  • 2013: Annual contactless transactions reach £1bn for the first time.
  • 2014: Barclaycard worked 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: Barclaycard creates the nation’s first payments fashion wearables. The spending limit per transaction rises from £20 to £30.
  • 2020: Contactless limit increases from £30 to £45.


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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