By Michael Moore
The U.K. is fast becoming a nation of contactless shoppers, as the technology begins to take off and is close to becoming mainstream, new research has revealed.
Data from payments provider Worldpay has shown that the total number of contactless transactions completed in the U.K. rose by more than 150 percent over the last six months to hit 16.69 million in October.
Overall, the number of contactless payments has increased by 1,591 percent in the past two years, Worldpay reports, largely thanks to supermarkets embracing the technology at their tills.
Supermarkets now account for nearly half of all the U.K.'s contactless transactions, WorldPay found, with 44 percent of the total number. This was followed by fast food restaurants (24 percent), with the technology also increasingly being deployed in pubs, restaurants, pharmacies and news agents.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, London is the biggest market within the U.K., representing just under half of all contactless transactions taking place within the M25, thanks in part to campaigns such as contactless tube travel. However, huge growth is being seen in other cities, including Bristol (286.6 percent) and Bournemouth (223.3 percent) over the past year.
"Contactless is really a no-brainer for businesses that process a significant number of low-value transactions," said Dave Hobday, managing director of Worldpay UK. "It keeps customers happy by making their lives easy, and it helps staff make as many sales as possible during peak times.
"While this is still a relatively new market, with just 18 percent of Brits claiming to possess a contactless card that they use regularly, it is phenomenal how quickly the technology is moving from nice-to-have to a must in sectors like hospitality, food, entertainment and retail. Any retailer still on the side lines is going to end up a step behind their competitors and missing out on 'tap and go' trade."
WorldPay has released the findings to coincide with the company passing the £1 billion mark in payments processed over the last three years. The company processes over 8.4 billion transactions every year across the world, supporting over 200 payment types in 115 currencies.
Findings revealed earlier this week by Juniper Research predicted that the number of online payments made throughout the world is set to soar over the next three years, reaching the two billion mark by 2017.