Visa customers across Europe have made one billion additional contactless payments since the spending limit was raised early in the Covid-19 pandemic.
About 400 million of these were made in the UK, which has announced it will this year increase the spending limit again to £100 from £45.
The figures from Visa Europe, covering 29 countries, also show an appetite for an increased use of contactless payments, with 65% of consumers preferring to use contactless payments as much as, or more than, they do currently.
Visa Europe’s CEO, Charlotte Hogg, said contactless has become the norm for European consumers and retailers. “Contactless payments are popular because they combine speed and convenience with security,” she said.
Hogg added that increasing contactless payment limits could contribute to post Covid-19 economic recovery. “Today’s milestone demonstrates how consumers and retailers now rely on digital solutions to make everyday payments.
“Enabling contactless payments will be key to Europe’s economic recovery, and while raising contactless limits alone won’t revitalise the European economy, it is a step in the right direction, giving consumers the confidence to spend, and providing shops, restaurants and other retailers a boost just when they need it most.”
Visa said that across Europe, over 80% of in-store Visa payments are now contactless. During the past year, contactless transactions in France and Germany increased by two-thirds, and almost half respectively over the previous year. Consumers turned to contactless payments, many for the first time, when advised to reduce physical contact with people and amenities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the past there has been some trepidation about using contactless cards because, unlike other contactless payments such as Apple Pay, for which a fingerprint is needed, contactless cards do not verify whether the person making the payment is the card owner.
But Hogg at Visa Europe said contactless cards experience among the lowest fraud rates of any payment type. “In countries where contactless payments are widely used, fraud at the point of sale remains at historic lows,” she said.
According to UK Finance, contactless-only fraud equates to 2.5p in every £100 spent in the UK, but many users want reassurance. Recent research from IT supplier TietoEVRY found that 80% of UK consumers want a biometric security factor on their next payment card, with more than half of them willing to pay for it.
In June 2020, French bank BNP Paribas brought forward a project to add biometric authentication to contactless payments. While customers will still be able to make contactless payments up to the spending limit without a fingerprint, they will also be able to make higher-value contactless payments using the new card.
In the Nordics, OP Financial Group, working with service provider TietoEVRY, is testing biometric payment cards that combine contactless and fingerprint verification. It said that more than 60% of payment terminal transactions made by its customers using OP cards were contactless, but it wanted to give added security so users can make higher-value payments.