Online and contactless drive surge in UK card spending

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The number of purchases using debit and credit cards has more than doubled in the past 10 years, as contactless payments and online retail have driven a change in the way consumers pay, a new report from The UK Cards Association shows.

Debit and credit cards were used to make 16.4 billion purchases in 2016, up 146% from 6.7 billion in 2006.

Growth in the number of card transactions has outstripped the rise in the amount spent, showing consumers’ increasing preference for using cards instead of cash for lower value payments. Last year the average value of a card transaction fell to £43.47, its lowest level in 15 years.

The report highlights the impetus provided by a surge in online spending and contactless payments. By the end of 2016, four in 10 (39%) card transactions were either online or made using a contactless card, compared to a quarter (24%) the previous year.

In the next decade, the increasing use of contactless and mobile payments, particularly by younger people, will be a major source of growth for debit card payments – which celebrate their 30th birthday this month – the report says.

The volume of debit card purchases is forecast to grow by 57% to 18.2 billion in 2026, four times%) will be contactless. Credit card transactions are expected to increase to 3.7 billion by 2026.

Just last month, Payments UK forecast that payments by plastic debit will overtake cash in 2018, three years earlier than expected.