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Contactless named one of the 'words of 2014'

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year has been announced, with the payments specific term 'contactless' just missing out as the top choice among the judging panel.

'Contactless', which Oxford Dictionaries defines as "relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment", missed out on the top spot to 'vape'. Language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors found that use of the word vape in 2014 more than doubled year on year n 2014, due to the rise in the electronic cigarette industry.

Explaining the shortlisting of contactless in its annual list, Oxford Dictionaries said: "As an increasing number of retail outlets have made contactless payment facilities available, the word itself has seen a corresponding rise in use: corpus evidence shows a peak in September 2014, when the technology was adopted across London's transport network and Apple announced the iPay system utilising its mobile devices.

"Linguistically, the word may seem to be something of a misnomer: while a contactless card doesn't have to be inserted into a terminal, contact is still made between the card's chip and the card reader."

Many payments commentators expect the recent roll-out of contactless payment across the London transport network, which allows customers to pay for London Underground and bus services with the swipe of a card, will help boost its usage within the wider retail industry.

The larger grocers and a number of high street players such as Marks & Spencer, WHSmith and convenience store chains, have invested in contactless systems. Retailers view the platform as a way of speeding up the point of sale for transactions up to £20.

Payment services provider Worldpay said earlier this month that it has processed more than £1 billion payments using the technology in the last three years, adding that the number of contactless transactions in the UK has risen by more than 150% in the last six months.

The vendor said that supermarkets dominate the 'tap and go' payments market, accounting for 44% of all contactless transactions. Meanwhile, Worldpay's research also found that fast food outlets process a quarter of all transactions and that the technology is increasingly being deployed in pubs, restaurants, pharmacies and newsagents.

Health & beauty retailer Boots announced this time last year that all of its stores in the UK can accept contactless payment, and there are expectations that other high street companies will follow suit in the coming months.

Visa Europe predicts that Britons will make 500 million contactless payments between September this year and December 2015, thanks primarily to the implementation of the service by Transport for London (TfL).

Sandra Alzetta, executive director at Visa Europe, said: "We've seen an incredible response to the launch of contactless payments on London buses with nearly 19 million Visa contactless journeys made since it launched in 2012."

She added that the TfL move to extend this type of payment to Underground, DLR, tram and some National Rail services "will be another major boost to contactless usage leading to the three-fold increase we expect in the next year".

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Worldpay

Visa Europe