Number of debit cards tops 100 million

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The number of debit cards in circulation has reached over 100 million for the first time in the UK, according to figures from a trade body.

The UK Cards Association said the milestone was passed in April, with the growth reflecting the rising popularity of contactless "tap and go" payments as well as online shopping.

The number of debit cards in the UK has increased by 2.7% in the past year, up from 97.6 million to 100.3 million in April. It comes more than 15 years after the 50 million card mark was passed - in February 2001.

A total of 61.8 million debit cards now feature contactless technology. In September 2015, the transaction limit for a single contactless payment was increased by £10 to £30.

A recent report from Payments UK predicted that debit cards are set to overtake cash to be the UK's most frequently used payment method by 2021.

Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, said: "Since they were first launched in the UK in June 1987, debit cards have become a prime feature in the nation's wallets.

"Now, almost 30 years later, more than half of all retail sales in the UK are made using a debit card. More recently, it has been the growth of contactless, as well as the increasing use of debit cards for online shopping, that has been driving the changes."