Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Contactless payment card limit raised to 15

Money and payments are changing with technology

UK credit or debit cardholders can now spend up to £15 without offering a Pin number or a signature after the payment limit was raised for contactless cards.

A request by Visa and Mastercard to raise the limit from £10 was agreed by banks and other card providers.

An estimated one in seven UK residents will have a contactless card by the end of the year, allowing them to put it close to a sensor to pay for items.

The new threshold brings the UK closer in line with European limits.

In the eurozone, contactless cards can be used for total purchases of up to 25 euros (£22.60).

Renewed focus

Contactless technology allows cardholders to press their debit card to a sensor in more than 8,000 UK shops to register a payment. The money is automatically deducted from their bank account or added to their credit card bill.

The new higher limit... will lead to more retailers implementing the technology
Brian Cunnington, Barclays

In East Asia the chip found in a plastic card is placed in an everyday item such as a mobile phone or a watch. This is then pushed against a sensor in a shop to pay.

The UK has been relatively slow to take up the technology, partly owing to security concerns, but plans to phase out cheques by 2018 could put more focus on the service.

Occasionally, cardholders are asked to enter their Pin, as they are for purchases above £15. No cash-back is available.

The card provider covers any losses if a card is stolen and the customer reports the loss at the earliest opportunity and does not act negligently.

Rising popularity

When contactless technology started to become more mainstream, the payments industry set a limit of £10 on spending via a contactless card.

The increase to a £15 limit - across the industry - was aimed at making the technology more appealing to shopkeepers and as a response to demand from cardholders, according to a spokeswoman for the UK Cards Association.

She added that the relatively small sum meant that there remained little temptation for fraudsters.

Anyone sent a new Barclays Visa debit card will have the contactless technology built into the card as standard. Some four million contactless Barclaycard credit cards have also been issued.

"Contactless technology is undoubtedly the future of payments and we are seeing it grow hugely in popularity," said Brian Cunnington of Barclays.

"The new higher limit gives customers the flexibility of paying for even more transactions quickly, securely and conveniently via a contactless card payment and will lead to more retailers implementing the technology."

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