UK contactless mobile payments hit tipping point

Brits used their NFC-enabled mobile phones to spend nearly a billion pounds at the checkout last year, a 328% year-on-year rise, according to figures from Worldpay.

With Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay all beginning to establish themselves, the number of in-store contactless transactions made via mobile devices totalled 126 million last year, with the amount spent topping £975 million.

Almost a third of consumers are now taking advantage of their phone’s payment capabilities, says Worldpay, which predicts exponential growth over the next 12 months.

Accounting for 59% of all in-store mobile transactions, the supermarket sector has been an important driver in the uptake of digital wallets, as time-poor shoppers grab groceries on the go. Pubs, bars and restaurants make up a further 12.5% of the total spend.

But, shoppers are also now starting to use their phones for higher value items. In the second half of 2017, the average spend per transaction increased by 11%, driven in part by the increase in retailers accepting ‘limitless’ Apple Pay transactions in May.

James Frost, CMO, Worldpay, says: “Digital wallets are growing in popularity every day, but what’s interesting is the shift in the way people are shopping with their smartphone. No longer just restricted to light bites and post-work pints, mobile contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular for higher-end purchases too, as manufacturers integrate more sophisticated security features into handset designs.”

With this in mind, more than half of Brits – and nearly two thirds of Gen Z – can now see a future where their mobiles replace cards within five years.

The Worldpay stats are backed up by Barclaycard, which has released data showing strong growth in mobile and wearable payments, with the amount spent increasing by 365 per cent and 129 per cent respectively in just 12 months