UK residents can now make contactless payments of up to £30 without the need for a PIN. The increase from the prior limit of £20 means that people will be able to use phone-based payment services like Apple Pay, as well as contactless cards, for a wider range of transactions across the country. The UK Cards Association, which decided on the change, says that £30 covers common usages like an average supermarket spend, as well as most payments made in pubs, cinemas, gift shops, and elsewhere.
The question remains how long this limit will last. Apple Pay has no transaction limit in the US, the only other country where it's available, but the iPhone guarantees an extra layer of security. In the UK, many people also use contactless cards that work without any other authentication, so the limit is in place to prevent easy fraud and theft if the card is lost. Some retailers have been operating terminals with a higher transaction limit for Apple Pay, but today's move raises the bar across the nation.
Visa director calls contactless "the new normal."
The Cards Association's data shows that contactless payments are on the rise in the UK. The first half of 2015 saw customers make £2.5 billion in contactless payments — that's more than the whole of 2014, when £2.32 billion was spent. With Apple Pay launching in the UK in July and the payment limit being increased today, those figures are only going to rise. UK and Ireland managing director Kevin Jenkins says that contactless is becoming "the 'new normal'" in the region.
Terminals across the country will start to be updated from today, but the association says it may take a few weeks before national coverage is complete.