High Streets Initiative · 23 November 2017

Half of UK shoppers want to customise their contactless payment limit

A fifth of retailers would raise the payment ceiling to £100
A fifth of retailers would raise the payment ceiling to £100

Some 48 per cent of British consumers want the option of setting their own contactless payment limit, according to new survey findings.

Previous research from Barclaycard found that a majority of retail business owners favoured raising the contactless payment limit, with a fifth even backing a £100 ceiling. The latest findings, drawn from a survey conducted by Paymentsense, suggest consumers are split on the question.

The current payment ceiling of £30 was introduced in September 2015, rising from £20.

Of the half of consumers that wanted a customisable limit, just over a quarter would immediately raise it, the most popular reason being that £30 was considered too low.

However, one in five would instantly bring down their payment limit, with the biggest concern regarding fraud or theft. Respondents were also concerned that lifting the ceiling would cause their spending to fall out of control.

With consumers gearing up for the Christmas shopping period, the research uncovered divisions between higher and lower income households with regards to the payment ceiling.

On average, over a third of those on a lower income (up to £30,000) were worried that lifting the contactless payment limit over Christmas would mean overspending on presents, food and drinks.

Meanwhile, only 12 per cent of those in households earning £50,000 shared the same concerns. In this demographic, over two-thirds actively wanted to raise the ceiling over Christmas. Respondents cited increased spending (29 per cent) and saving time (21 per cent) as the main factors, but 17 per cent said they’d prefer not to carry cash for fear of pickpocketing or losing their wallet.

Responding to the findings, Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense said: “As we approach the Christmas shopping period and Black Friday, there’s a clear desire for shoppers to customise their contactless limits. Some are keen to have a lower limit to help budget and control spending, while others want to raise it for convenience.

“Contactless card payment is fast becoming the norm, with 80 per cent of those we surveyed owning one. Shoppers now expect to use them almost everywhere – both in a traditional or contactless manner.”

Previous figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed that card sales accounted for over half of all retail transactions in 2016, overtaking cash for the first time. The shift was partly attributed to the increased contactless payment limit.

Between 2013 and 2016, the average transaction value made by card fell from £30.53 to £25.40, with customers clearly responding to the convenience of contactless payments.

Alongside greater contactless use for low value payments, the increased contactless transaction ceiling of £30 was also allowing consumers to rely less on cash.

British men are spending more on clothes, shoes and grooming products each month than women

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.