Over 50% of payments were made by card in 2019

Card payments represented over half (51%) of all transactions for the first time in 2019, a new report from UK Finance has revealed. The study highlighted how consumer habits have been shifting towards card and contactless payment methods before the current Covid-19 crisis, which has served to further accelerate this trend.

In the latest ‘UK Payment Markets report’, supermarkets were shown to be the most popular place for contactless spending in 2019, accounting for 39% of transactions of this type. Overall, contactless payments across debit and credit cards rose by 16% to a total of £8.6 billion last year.

Contactless payments have become more popular during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the limit being lifted from £30 to £45 from 1 April, as well as it being seen as a more hygienic method than cash or chip & PIN.

The rise in card payments was also as a result of a year-on-year increase in online shopping, with 48 million adults in the UK purchasing items online in 2019. The amount of people spending via the internet grew across all age groups, including 79% of those aged over 65. This growth in eCommerce appears to have helped consumers adapt to the closure of non-essential retail stores during Covid-19; figures have revealed eCommerce has grown at an exponential rate over recent months as a result of these lockdown restrictions.

Stephen Jones, CEO of UK Finance, commented: “An increase in ways to pay coupled with the change in people’s payment habits may have inadvertently gone some way to prepare the nation for the impact of Covid-19 on their daily lives. With consumers already using contactless payments and remote banking more than in previous years, these technological advances have allowed many people to shop and make payments safely from home or in store.”

The report also showed a 15% year-on-year decline in cash payments in 2019, down to 9.3 billion payments. However, it remains the second most popular payment method in the UK after debit card.