Contactless 'tap and go' card payments soar across Europe

Some three billion contactless card transactions have been made across Europe in the last 12 months - with UK consumers being among the biggest users of the technology - according to figures from Visa Europe.

Visa said the number of "tap and go" card payments across Europe has nearly tripled compared with a year earlier and people in the UK, Poland and Spain tend to use contactless the most.

The UK has seen the use of contactless, where customers do not need to give their signature or enter a Pin, grow by 300%, from 51 million transactions in April 2015 to 153 million in April 2016, Visa said.

The continued success of contactless commuting on Transport for London services is one reason for the strong growth in the UK, it said, with nearly nine in 10 contactless journeys being made using Visa cards.

It said some of the most popular contactless merchants in the UK include Tesco, the Co-operative, McDonald's and Marks & Spencer.

In the UK, the limit for a contactless payment that can be made in a single transaction was increased by £10 to £30 in September 2015.

Contactless payments as a proportion of all Visa-processed face-to-face payments have surged from just one in 60 payments in 2013 to more than one in five today.

Around 165 million Visa contactless cards and 3.2 million payment terminals are now active across Europe.

In general, Visa said restaurants have seen a particularly large growth in contactless transactions, with retailers, supermarkets and fast food outlets also seeing strong increases.

Tristan Kirchner, executive director of product management at Visa Europe, said: "The last 12 months has seen contactless payments continue its extraordinary growth as this quick and convenient form of payment reaches more consumers and merchants throughout Europe."