Contactless spending limit increased to £45 to help tackle coronavirus

The move was already being considered by the industry but has been accerlated to combat the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: Getty Images/EPA)

The contactless card payment limit will be lifted from £30 to £45 next week in an emergency move to help tackle coronavirus.

The £15 increase, announced on Tuesday, is to reduce the need for physical contact with machines, with scientists previously saying the virus can stay on particular surfaces for days.

The changes were already being considered by the industry, but the process has been accelerated in the midst of ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the last increase to £30 took two years to implement but the new limit would be working at some shops across the UK from April 1.

The contactless limit was increased from £20 to £30 in 2015 and took two years to implement (Picture: Getty Images)

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However, a spokesperson added that it could take some time before shoppers can find it at all stores, particularly those currently operating at peak capacity.

BRC head of payments policy, Andrew Cregan, said: ‘The last contactless limit increase to £30 took two years to implement but, given the extraordinary circumstances we face today, this new £45 limit will be rolled out from next week.

‘Some shops will take longer to make the necessary changes, given the strain they’re under. In the meantime, most customers can continue to make contactless payments for higher amounts using their smartphone.’

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, which represents the finance and payments industry, said the decision to raise the limit was made following talks with the retail sector to ‘help customers with their shopping at this critical time for the country’.

He added: ’This will give more people the choice to opt for the speed and convenience of purchasing goods using their contactless card, helping to cut queues at the checkout.

‘The industry continues to work closely with the government and regulators to support customers impacted by Covid-19 and ensure that they can pay in a way that suits them.’

Increasing the limit from £30 to £45 will also mean that more transactions can be made without handling cash.

A man wears a protective mask and gloves in London, Britain, 17 March 2020 (Picture: EPA)

Health authorities previously advised shoppers to use cards instead of banknotes where possible, warning that coronavirus can remain on inert surfaces long enough to infect new hosts, although the risk is believed to be lower than human-to-human contact.

Some £80.5 billion was spent on contactless payments in 2019, UK Finance figures show – an increase of 16% on the previous year.

While the decision may spark some concern about fraud, UK Finance has said contactless fraud equates to just 2.5p in every £100 spent using contactless technology.

Contactless fraud on payment cards and devices represents just 3.3% of overall card fraud losses.

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