UK Contactless spending limit to increase to £45 to stem spread of virus

From 1st April 2020 customers in the UK wishing to pay by using contactless technology including smart phones, smart watches and any contactless debit or credit card, will be able to purchase items up to the value of £45. The current limit for UK contactless payments is set at £30.

The decision to raise the current contactless limit by £15 to £45 was taken after extensive discussions between the retail sector and the finance and payments industry, and the UK has replicated similar decisions seen in other countries across Europe. Before the announcement about the impending increase, it was already under lawful consideration by the industry body.

Why has the contactless limit been increased to £45?

The growth and popularity in contactless technology has grown dramatically in the last 5 years and discussions were already underway to increase the current limit, but after the current issues we are experiencing with covid-19 and the sudden increase in outbreaks, the process was brought forward and felt under the current climate it was deemed a necessary measure in order to minimise the number of physical touch points where infection of covid-19 can be transmitted.

There are also fears amongst many that notes and coins may be contaminated and concerns with money being exchanged amongst people that this could ultimately increase the spread of coronavirus.

Some felt a temporary increase to £100 on contactless payments would help social distancing

Reading some of the comments online, on various business forums and after speaking to some of Wireless Terminal Solutions customers, it was clear some felt the Government should have looked at temporarily increasing the contactless limit to £50, £75 or even £100 to allow people to purchase groceries or their weekly food shop without the need to be touching key pads and to aid social distancing.

This theme continued and some customers felt that by increasing the contactless limit to £50, £75 or £100 it would benefit everyone because it would enable the ability to process transactions quickly whilst limiting contact with Chip & PIN keypads.

When were contactless payments introduced in the UK?

Contactless payments were first introduced 13 years ago in 2007 and at the time the limit was restricted to £10 in one single transaction. Eight years later this limit was increased to £30 and the growth in recent times has grown dramatically.

Extra hygiene measures when using an ATM cash machine

Whilst the emphasis is primarily to encourage the trend in contactless payments which has been reflected by the increase, the public were warned last week to be wary of ATM and other cash dispensers and have been advised to take extra precautions relating to hygiene when withdrawing cash or using an ATM for anything else. It has been stressed to avoid touching nose, eyes and mouth until after washed your hands.

How can I prevent fraud with the new £45 contactless limit?

Fraud prevention rules were implemented and outlined in late 2019. In short, customers will be required to enter their PIN number for one in every five contactless purchases. The idea is that it will help limit fraudulent use on debit and credit cards. If you are one of those customers who solely use their card for contactless purchases, now is the time to start remembering your PIN numbers again!