Card company Visa has recorded three billion contactless transactions in Europe over the past year.
In April alone, European consumers used their cards 360m times, clocking in at almost 140 transactions per second. Contactless now accounts for one in every five Visa card payments in Europe, up from one in 60 in 2013.
In the UK, contactless adoption grew by 300 per cent to 153m transactions in April 2016 from 51m in the same period the year before.
The UK has lead growth of contactless use in Europe, along with Poland and Spain. The most popular contactless merchants in the UK are supermarkets Tesco and the Co-op, Transport for London’s bus and underground services, fast food outlet McDonald’s and retailer Marks & Spencer.
Figures from industry body the UK Cards Association show there are 84.2m contactless cards in the UK as of February this year.
Last year, consumers spent a whopping £7.75bn on contactless cards, compared with £2.32bn in 2014.
“With contactless cards, rather than cash, becoming the preferred way to pay for smaller purchases, there has been a dramatic drop in the average value of a card transaction in recent years,” said Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association.
“Contactless cards are also being used to pay for travel and to donate to charity and as technology evolves, there will be even more environments in which to use contactless.”
Across Europe, Visa has 3.2m contactless payment terminals, up 23 per cent from 2.6m 12 months ago. Visa is planning to convert all terminals to contactless by the year 2020.
“The last 12 months has seen contactless payments continue its extraordinary growth,” said Visa Europe product director Tristan Kirchner.