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Contactless is now our way of life

01 Apr 2020 07:00

As Barclaycard Payments works with partners including Musgrave to roll out a new, higher contactless limit amid the COVID-19 crisis, we consider the role of contactless in these unprecedented times

Retailers in the UK are having to adapt in these unprecedented times. Extra measures have been put in place which impact when consumers can shop for essentials, including limiting items per customer, creating special opening hours for the elderly and NHS staff and also encouraging the use of contactless payments to reduce the spread of the virus. Now, to better suit the needs of customers during the pandemic, providers are increasing contactless spend limits from £30 to £45 in the UK from 1 April – helping shoppers to make payments without touching card terminals or handling cash.

Contactless limits are also rising across other European countries with MasterCard announcing its commitment to enabling the increases in 29 countries including Spain, Italy and Germany, which will ultimately improve shopping experiences for people across the continent. The changes are designed to reflect the evolving consumer trend giving them ease, speed and peace of mind.

There has been phenomenal growth in the use of contactless over the years and they are now so popular among UK consumers that they accounted for half of all debit card transactions in July last year, according to UK Finance. With new limits in place, the widespread use of contactless and mobile devices are set to change the way we shop and pay in a fast changing world.

The new face of contactless

Contactless has been around in the UK since 2007, and Barclays has been working to drive the concept forward ever since, with new cards, devices and innovations designed to keep the UK spending seamlessly. Benefits include speed and seamlessness for the customer and greater efficiency for staff. When contactless cards were first introduced the limit was set at £10 and it then rose to £30 in 2015. The limit is in place for security reasons, meaning if the card were to fall into the wrong hands, it would be more difficult to make large, fraudulent purchases.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, is taking a leading role in supporting its clients and enabling them to be amongst the first to accept the new £45 contactless limits. Deployment in the UK will be prioritised for retailers in key sectors, including grocery and supermarket stores, bakeries, pharmacies and petrol service stations.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments said: “It’s more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of social distancing in store. 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”.

Similarly, in Ireland, the limit for contactless payments has risen from €30 to €50 and Barclaycard Payments is working with Musgrave, the country’s leading food retail, wholesale, and food service company, to enable it to accept the new limit in store. Three of Musgrave’s retail brands, SuperValu, Centra, and Musgrave Marketplace will be among the first shops in Ireland to accept the new €50 contactless limit in store.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic mean new rules around how we work shop, play and pay could have a lasting impact on all our lives. The new habits we’ve adopted for hygiene and safety during the pandemic could become second nature to us in the months and years to come. For now, we encourage businesses to think about the safety of their staff and customers. Stay safe, avoid unnecessary risks and look after one another.