Should Contactless Payments Be Mainstream By Now? A New Study Reveals All.

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Contactless payments are nearly available to everyone who owns a smartphone – although NFC technology's omission in the iPhone 5 has slowed its rate of adoption. Yet most places don't accept contactless payments as an option for a customer to pay for their purchases.

With 27 million contactless cards in the UK, with more contactless enabled devices around, why hasn't it become a mainstream payment method?

Over the last four months, the usage rates of contactless cards has risen to 12 per cent from 8 per cent, according to a study from ICM Research.

The study went on to say that of those who made contactless payments, 9 per cent say they make them every day – compared with 5 per cent just four months ago.

Twenty-eight per cent said that they make contactless payments "nearly every day", which is over double the amount who said the same thing four months ago.

Clearly, popularity for the payment medium is growing, even if it's only slight. Nearly half of those who made payments with contactless cards or devices said that they would be more likely to shop in places that offered up contactless payment devices in stores.

It would also appear that those who live in urbanised areas are more likely to adapt faster to new technologies, making it rather unsurprising that contactless card usage in London has doubled to 25 per cent of the city's population; with 80 per cent being aware of them, 42 per cent owing one and 25 per cent using them.

Outside of London, people are as aware of them, yet only 28 per cent have them and 12 per cent have used them.

The technology took off far better in Tokyo and Hong Kong after it was installed onto transport networks. This could be the same reason for why they have recently taken off in London as Barclaycard can now be used to pay in place of an Oyster card.

Still, adoption rates are lower than they could be, which could stem from security fears over a new piece of technology.

ICM Research associate director Jamie Belnikoff states that women are more security conscious while men are more practical in their attitudes towards the technology.

"Women are more likely to say they would contactless more often if their security concerns were allayed," said Belnikoff. "There is an opportunity to communicate to them how secure it is."

How do to that is another matter altogether, but from the research shown, 62 per cent of contactless card users feel it is secure, proclaiming it as ‘the future' as it reduces the time spent paying in-store.

The research shows that contactless should be the major payment technology present in the UK, but many convenience stores don't feature the technology.

Mobile payments are also quite close to exploding in a similar way, but contactless technology needs to be more widely adopted in stores to allow for it to become a real challenger.

"If you get customers using contactless cards, it can leveraged as a stepping stone to using Mobile Wallet," says Belnikoff. "Mobile phone brands should be excited that contactless is starting to move in the right direction as well as thinking about how to improve consumer appetite for this aspect."

Visa believe that by 2020 half of its transactions will be made from mobiles – hence partnering with Samsung on the Galaxy 4.

You can see a brief overview of the information in a short infographic too

Do you think that the UK should be using mobile payments in a bigger way than they already are?

Are contactless cards really the future of payments? Our community survey suggests otherwise.

Let us know by leaving your thoughts in a comment below.


At this year's Cards & Payments Asia 2013 NFC, Mobile and the future of payments are all on the agenda. You'll find out how you can stay ahead of the game and make sure you make the most of capitalising on the shift in the payments market before it becomes a crowded space. You can download a free prospectus to find out more.

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