New £45 contactless card limit to be rolled out from Wednesday

1 April 2020, 07:53

A contactless card
Contactless card limit. Picture: PA

The £30 limit is being increased by £15 to help combat coronavirus.

Shoppers will be able to make contactless card payments with a new higher limit of up to £45 per transaction from Wednesday.

The contactless card payment limit in shops is increasing by £15, from £30 previously, as part of measures to combat coronavirus.

The new £45 limit is three times the amount it was a decade ago, back in 2010.

“Tap and go” contactless cards initially had a limit of £10 in 2007.

This was increased to £15 in 2010, £20 in 2012 and to £30 in 2015.

Trade association UK Finance, which represents the finance and payments industry, said the decision to raise the limit was made following talks with the retail sector.

It follows similar increases recently made elsewhere in Europe.

An increased limit was already being considered but the process has been accelerated as part of the industry’s response to Covid-19.

It will mean more payments can be made without the need to handle cash and it will also reduce the number of occasions when people need to input their Pin on a machine when making payments.

People will not be able to make contactless card payments of up to £45 in all the shops that remain open from Wednesday.

The software on card payment machines will be updated to accept the new £45 limit but UK Finance said with hundreds of thousands of terminals in the UK, the updating process will happen gradually.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said while the new contactless limit will be operational at some stores across the UK from April 1, it may be some time before it can be applied more widely.

BRC head of payments policy Andrew Cregan said: “Some shops will take longer to make the necessary changes, given the strain they’re under.”

Some £80.5 billion was spent using contactless payments in 2019, UK Finance figures show, up by 16% on the previous year.

Allowing people to tap and go on higher value card transactions may also spark concerns about fraud.

But according to UK Finance, contactless fraud equates to just 2.5p in every £100 spent using contactless technology.

It said contactless fraud on payment cards and devices represents just 3.3% of overall card fraud losses.

Supermarket Morrisons has asking customers to pay, where possible, by card or smartphone to help reduce cash handling and limit the number of physical interactions taking place.

It said that while many customers have opted to pay this way, some have been restricted from doing so due to the £30 limit. Morrisons said all of its checkouts will accept the new £45 limit by Friday April 3.

Morrisons chief executive David Potts said: “We want to thank all our customers for using less cash as it is another step in helping to keep our customers and colleagues safe. We’re pleased to be able to help them further by increasing the limit on contactless cards.”

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets at KPMG, said: “Even prior to the crisis, consumers have been adopting new technologies like contactless, changing the consumer landscape at large.

“But in the same way we are focusing on the vulnerable in society in other ways, there are also those who aren’t perhaps as adaptive to these new technologies and need to be front of mind.

“The Government’s decision to further restrict social interaction will also no doubt lead to more consumers turning online, another area where some will be less comfortable and at risk.

“We therefore encourage business and Government to combine these positive changes with helpful advice to educate and protect shoppers.”

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “Raising the contactless card limit will be helpful for those shoppers and retailers who may want to handle less cash during the coronavirus crisis, but it’s also vital that vulnerable consumers do not end up without a way to pay for essential products and services.

“Both the Government and retailers need to find a way to ensure that the millions of people who rely on cash, and may not have a bank card, can still pay for the basics they need during this difficult time.”

By Press Association

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