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Contactless limit to be upped to £45 in response to coronavirus pandemic

Tom Bottomley
24 March 2020

In response to British Retail Consortium (BRC) pressure and widespread consumer demand, the contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45 from 1 April 2020.

It is being introduced in response to the coronavirus outbreak as a measure to reduce the need for physical contact with PIN-Entry Devices (PEDs) at points of sale.

While the new contactless limit with be operational at some stores across the UK from 1 April, it may take longer to roll out to retailers who are already currently operating at peak capacity.

Head of payments policy at the BRC, 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.”

Barclaycard, which provides the technology to power 150,000 terminals across the UK retail network, is supporting the roll-out.

Deployment will be prioritised for retailers in key sectors, including grocery & supermarket stores, bakeries, pharmacies and petrol service stations. Barclaycard said it would be supporting the deployment of the higher contactless limit to other merchants in due course.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments said: “It’s more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of their collective health and safety. We are proud to be taking a leadership position in the UK by commencing the deployment of a higher contactless threshold. By supporting the ability of customers to spend up to £45 via contactless, we are playing a part in helping UK consumers to pay safely and securely in these challenging times”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered the closure of all non-essential retail (essentially all stores apart from food stores, pharmacies, post offices and banks) from 24 March for at least three weeks, when the measures will be reviewed. This means the earlier non-essential stores can expect to reopen is after the Easter Weekend on 14 April.

However any relaxing of the so-called lock-down rules, that also include bans on public gatherings of more than two people (including weddings and baptisms) and a ban on entering a household other than your own, will be dependent on the country wresting control of the outbreak of the virus which has killed 335 Britons with 6,650 confirmed cases.

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