Why 2015 was the year that contactless truly went mainstream

  • Contactless – it’s now a word that’s widely recognised in British society. After being promoted by the business community for some time, the payment method is finally becoming habit for consumers too. In fact, it’s been causing such a buzz that the Oxford Dictionary even named it as one of its words of the year at the end of 2014!

    In the year that followed, the payment method went from strength to strength, making headlines due to its consistent growth. To document its rise to fame, we’ve pulled together some of the technology’s most attention-grabbing stories from the past 12 months.

    Up goes the spending limit

    In September, fans of tap-and-go were pleased to hear that the contactless spending limit was being increased in the UK. Previously only able to make low-value purchases of up to £20, consumers could now confirm £30 transactions too. It was a move that further boosted the convenience of what’s been hailed as the speediest way to pay – and so far, it seems that the change has been welcomed by consumers all over the country.

    New milestones made

    Figures surrounding contactless have always been positive, but these excelled following the limit change in September. Not only was it revealed that contactless spending by consumers increased by a huge 164% last year, but the method now accounts for 10% of all payments made in the UK.

    And it’s not something that the industry thinks will slow down either. “We expect contactless payments to continue to break new records throughout 2016,” said Barclaycard recently.

    Tap to travel

    The once high street-only staple made its move underground in 2014, when contactless debuted across London’s tube network. Following a successful trial, TfL made the decision to take this even further, and extended the payment option across all of its travel services. Fast forward a year, and it’s now a firm favourite for London’s commuters – in fact, they now make up 70% of contactless usage in the country.

    Their love for it isn’t going unnoticed; public transport users all over the country also want to get involved. Thankfully, it’s a cry that seems to be being heard by UK’s travel operators, with latest reports suggesting that buses throughout the UK will soon all accept contactless payments.

    Fashion’s seal of approval

    2015 also saw the contactless trend get noticed by the trendiest sector of all: fashion. For the first time, contactless technology featured on the catwalk, not just at the point-of-sale.

    In partnership with Visa, fashion designer Henry Holland created a contactless ring to be worn by guests at his London Fashion Week show. Integrated with NFC capabilities, the accessory allowed these guests to make purchases direct from his range while they were being modelled. The wearer simply needed to tap the ring against their desired clothing tag to confirm the order.

    But while the above highlights prove the potential of contactless payments, there are still many businesses that are keeping their backs turned when it comes to the technology. Recent figures revealed that 70% of merchants still do not accept it as payment from customers – with a third claiming they see no benefits of implementing it anytime soon. How long will it be before consumers stop taking no for answer and shop elsewhere instead?