Visa says contactless payments rose 46 per cent in first quarter

VISA hailed what it called a watershed moment for contactless payments yesterday as it revealed that use of the technology had risen by 46 per cent across Europe in just three months.

The payments firm has been rolling out contactless technology into stores and onto its credit cards in recent years, as well as building the service into smartphones, but adoption has appeared slow until now.

However, the service has recently been added to retailers such as Marks & Spencer and introduced on London buses, leading to a spike in its popularity. Visa said £39m worth of payments had been made via 5.3m contactless transactions in the UK in the first three months of the year – a 22 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise – while Europe as a whole was up 46 per cent.

Retailers benefit from contactless payments because they are quicker and easier to process than cash and chip-and-pin transactions, while payments companies such as Visa generate fees from their use.

Visa said that one in four of its cards in the UK are now contactless, and that 232,000 tills are equipped to use the technology. The company predicted that use of the service will rise almost nine-fold by the end of the year.