Retailers in the UK are being urged to invest in contactless card technology and consider the future direction of contactless payments, as the number of transactions made via this method continues to grow.

The UK Cards Association said on Tuesday that UK consumers spent a record £109.2 million using their contactless cards during March 2014 – the first time the monthly usage figure has surpassed £100 million.

March's contactless card expenditure was £22.2 million up on February and represented an increase of 200% year on year, suggesting to retailers that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable paying for goods in this way.

The chief marketing officer for WorldPay UK, James Frost, said this week that the average sale size via contactless payment has grown by 27% in just two years.

"If you're a business regularly taking payments of £20 or less, contactless is a must," he explained.

"You can serve customers quicker, cut down queues and never miss a sale during peak times."

The UK Cards Association data, which also showed that the number of monthly contactless card transactions has more than tripled over the course of the last year, was announced at this week's Contactless Intelligence conference in London.

Graham Peacop, managing director of the group, said that customers are finding contactless "a very convenient way to pay", with over 370 contactless transactions now made every minute in the UK, equating to six per second.

Financial services provider Halifax added more weight to the notion that cash payments are becoming increasingly unpopular in the UK, suggesting this week that for every £100 customers spend, more than a quarter (£28.87) goes on debit card. The study also indicated that £27.72 is accounted for by automated payments such as direct debit, while cash usage represents 17% of activity.

The concept of future society operating on a cashless basis, which some observers have predicted in the past, is arguably wide of the mark – and the managing director for retail at technology firm Wincor Nixdorf, Martin Smethurst, argued this week that a widespread shift in payments habits is perhaps not as imminent as some would suggest.

"Considerable investment was made into automated taxi payments during the 2012 Olympics, but it's certainly taking time for cashless payments to be adopted by the mainstream market," he explained.

"Retailers can keep ahead of competitors by ensuring their systems are ready for these other forms of payment which are predicted to rise. Mobile payments are likely to become more important to the customer experience within the next few years, as more consumers consider more convenient ways to pay on the move [and] retailers need to ensure they are ready."

Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, and there are a plethora of mobile payment options in the process of entering the market. It is not yet clear which solutions will gain traction and the sector is set to grow even more competitive over the next 12 months as mobile phones become an increasingly essential part of consumers' everyday lives.

Retailers are cautiously monitoring the market with interest to see which business models in the m-payment space offer the most suitable experience for their customers.

"Although cash is still the first point of contact for many retailers, it's important that they start to embrace automated payments if they want to remain in front of the competition and exceed consumer expectations," Smethurst commented.

"As retailers continue to put consumers at the centre of the shopping experience, it's vital that more advanced payments are on their priority list."