Contactless limit to be increased to £45 from April

25 March 2020   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Existing contactless limit of £30 will be raised to £45, allowing customers greater flexibility when paying with card.

The rollout is set to begin from 1 April 2020 and follows similar moves in other European countries.

However, the roll-out is likely to take some time, and may not take effect in the retailers remaining open following the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown until later in the year.

In related news, banks have been given longer to implement Confirmation of Payee anti-fraud measures due to the coronavirus outbreak.

contactless payment

Increased flexibility

The contactless limit was last increased in 2015 when it was raised from the £20 it had been since the launch of the technology up to £30.

Now it's been raised again five years later to £45, a 50% increase which allows customers to pay for more items without having to input their PIN number.

While mobile users are already able to make payments of more than £30 in some retailers, this is a universal upgrade to the debit and credit card contactless system which will eventually be rolled out nationwide.

The increase has been agreed between the financial and retail sectors, along with the UK payments industry.

Gradual rollout

While the changes theoretically begin on 1 April 2020, it's unlikely we'll changes from many retailers in the near future.

That's partly due to most retailers closing down as part of the Covid-19 UK lockdown, yet it's also because the roll-out of changes like this does take time.

For example, the last increase from £20 to £30 took around two years to implement across the retail sector, but the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Covid-19 have prompted the industry to roll it out more quickly this time.

Part of the rationale for expediting the implementation this time was to limit the amount of physical contact customers need to have while paying for goods in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Although it may not matter as much right now as most shops are closed, when rules are eventually relaxed, it will still help maintain distance for customers and staff in retail locations.

Confirmation of Payee

In a separate development, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has confirmed they'll be lenient if any banks fail to implement Confirmation of Payee (CoP) by the end of March as previously planned.

CoP is designed as an extra layer of protection for people transferring money, requiring them to input the name of the intended recipient of a transfer so that the bank can check if it matches the name on the account.

It was supposed to come into force during the summer of 2019, but the PSR announced the expected deadline was unachievable back in May 2019.

Concerns have been raised about the ability of smaller providers to implement the change, and so the deadline was extended until the end of March 2020.

Some banks have already contacted their customers to say the technology has been implemented and is working. These include NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland.

However, others including Santander, Nationwide, HSBC and Barclays are now planning more staggered roll-outs of the service to match the new 30 June deadline given by PSR.

HSBC pointed out the coronavirus crisis was their priority with Santander saying they would work towards implementation by the end of June.

While only the major banking groups are legally required to implement CoP, others including Starling and The Co-op Bank are supportive and aim to roll-out the service at some point during 2020.


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