Next phase of contactless revolution sees rapid growth in mobile and wearable payments

Next phase of contactless revolution sees rapid growth in mobile and wearable payments

  • Barclaycard data reveals mobile and wearable payments are growing rapidly, with the amount spent increasing by 365 per cent and 129 per cent respectively in just 12 months
  • Contactless payments across credit and debit card saw continued momentum in 2017, with an overall 79 per cent jump in spend
  • Across the UK Belfast, York and Newcastle-upon-Tyne had the highest regional uplifts in ‘touch and go’ spending
  • Passenger railways have seen the highest spike in sector spend, up 235 per cent, followed by car parks which rose by 132 per cent

Data released by Barclaycard today as part of its latest Contactless Spending Index shows that mobile and wearable payments are surging in popularity, seeing the highest growth rates of any form of ‘touch-and-go’ payment technology.

The amount spent using Barclaycard’s Android Contactless Mobile facility has increased 365 per cent year-on-year*, while spending via bPay – a unique, flexible payments chip that can be embedded into a variety of products such as watches and jewellery – jumped 129 per cent. The spike in usage of mobile and wearable payments indicates not only an increased demand by consumers to pay quickly and easily, but also a desire to opt for a contactless payment method which best suits their needs.

Overall, contactless payments, including those made on a credit and debit card, have seen continued growth over the last 12 months, with a 79 per cent uplift in spending. With ‘touch and go’ now accounting for more than six in ten (62 per cent) of electronic transactions up to the £30 spending limit, this latest data demonstrates just how ubiquitous the technology has become.

UK hotspots of growth

Cities outside London, where Barclaycard first introduced contactless payments in 2007, continue to see the highest rates of growth. The biggest leaps in annual spend were in Belfast, with a 60 per cent rise, York (up 59 per cent) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (up 56 per cent).


Annual increase in contactless spending


60 per cent


59 per cent

Newcastle upon Tyne

56 per cent


54 per cent


54 per cent


53 per cent


53 per cent


53 per cent


53 per cent


52 per cent

Southend on Sea

52 per cent


52 per cent

Stoke on Trent

52 per cent


51 per cent


51 per cent

Railways and car parks lead the way on spending

The sectors seeing the biggest increases in contactless payments are passenger railways (up 235 per cent year-on-year) and car parks (up 132 per cent), followed by traditional retailers such as sporting goods stores (up 85 per cent) and clothing stores (up 85 per cent).


Annual increase in contactless spending

Passenger railways

235 per cent

Car parks

132 per cent

Sporting goods

85 per cent


85 per cent

Lumber building material

81 per cent

Gift, speciality and variety merchandise

75 per cent

Department stores

67 per cent

Service stations

64 per cent

Hotels, motels and resorts

58 per cent


57 per cent

Nurseries, lawn and garden supply

55 per cent

Discount retailers

54 per cent

Beer, wine and liquor

52 per cent


50 per cent

Convenience stores

46 per cent

The high growth rate among transport merchants is testament to the benefits of contactless payments for those on-the-go. Travel is an area where speed and convenience are key for consumers: time is of the essence when rushing to board a train, with ’touch and go’ saving an average of seven seconds per transaction compared to Chip and PIN and 15 when compared to cash.

In London, the roll-out of contactless across the Transport for London travel network from 2012 has played a key role in driving adoption. Other transport operators across the country are now following suit and integrating ‘touch and go’ technology to allow commuters to pay quickly and easily – for instance, bPay recently partnered with Plymouth CityBus to enable commuters to pay for their journeys using contactless across its services.

Adam Herson, Business Development Director, Barclaycard Mobile Payments, said:

“The surge in popularity of wearable and mobile payments creates exciting opportunities for shoppers and brands alike. Consumers can now choose the type of accessory or device they want and match it to their lifestyle or fashion taste, all while enjoying the speed, ease and convenience that contactless brings.

“Barclaycard introduced contactless payments to the UK in 2007, and ever since we’ve been driving the innovation and adoption of the technology. In the last 12 months, we’ve introduced the world’s first contactless car key with DS Automobiles, and we’re also working with many brands to embed bPay chips into everyday products, to allow their customers to pay quickly and easily.”

Additional research from Barclaycard’s ‘Time is Money’ report found that ‘touch and go’ spending is set to rocket 317 per cent by 2021, with contactless payments expected to save UK shoppers almost £1 billion worth of time over the same period**. The research also showed that two in five retailers who accept contactless now only accept card payments or plan to become completely cash-free in the next five years.

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Chloe Wilkinson on 020 3555 4036 or

* Barclaycard Contactless data comparing spending in the 12 months of January – December 2016 and January to December 2017.

** Barclaycard’s Time is Money report 2017:

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2016 we processed over £250bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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