The limit for contactless card payments in shops will rise to £45 ($52) from 1 April as part of efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that increasing the limit from £30 to £45 will allow more transactions to be made without handling cash which will reduce the need for physical contact with devices where people need to input their Pin.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously advised people to use contactless technology instead of cash as banknotes may contribute to the spread of coronavirus.
However, the BRC warned that it could take some time for the new limit to be implemented in all shops.
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 smart phone.”
The move follows similar increases recently made elsewhere in Europe. Ireland will raise the contactless limit from €30 (£27.50) to €50 from the beginning of April.
In the UK, customers can already make contactless payments for amounts higher than £30 using their mobile phone, if the retailer allows.
Apple Pay also does not currently have a universal limit on the amount that can be spent, but some retailers put their own restrictions in place.
Trade association UK Finance, which represents the finance and payments industry, said the changes were already being considered, but the process had been sped up as part of the industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some £80.5bn was spent on contactless payments in 2019, according to UK Finance figures, a rise of 16% on the previous year.
The coronavirus pandemic has also meant the introduction of new anti-fraud measures has been delayed. Banks were planning to introduce a system known as “confirmation of payee”, which will involve banks matching names as well as account numbers and sort codes, on 1 April, but this has been pushed back to 30 June.
However, UK Finance said contactless fraud on payment cards and devices represents just 3.3% of overall card fraud losses.
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