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E-commerce and contactless technologies boost card payments to new high

05 June 2015 - 13:52 by Graham Miller

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The amount of money spent by UK consumers using credit or debit cards over the course of 2014 was up by 8.2 per cent, year on year, hitting just over £600 billion for the first time in history.

This amount of cash was spread across 12.96 billion individual transactions, a 12.1 per cent rise, which is being seen as directly related to the growing popularity of safe shopping online and contactless payment in the high street.

The key feature of this latest report from the UK Cards Association is that it identifies the growth of low value transactions, buoyed by people switching from using cash for inexpensive purchases, to harnessing NFC chips embedded in many payment cards.

Seventy five per cent of the money taken by retailers last year came from a payment card rather than any other source. And in fact, debit cards are more popular than credit cards, accounting for over three quarters of plastic transactions.

The total number of payment cards issued in the UK at the moment is recorded at 159 million, of which debit cards are by far the most common. And it seems that there is a generational shift away from credit cards, with the majority of users of this type of payment method tending to be over the age of 45.

On average, a typical debit card transaction was valued at £43.45, with a small drop in this total of just over £1, compared with the previous year.

Because most people who carry out safe shopping online do so either using a credit or debit card, it is understandable that such transactions are continuing to increase.

It is also interesting to see how contactless payment facilities are altering habits and, ultimately, sidelining coins and cash even further.