Contactless payments climb quickly

Ian Rogers

Use of contactless payments is on the rise. Contactless payments now account for 50 per cent of all MasterCard and Visa card payments at Coles, for example. For scheme debit, the proportion at Coles is 60 per cent.

At Woolworths, the ratio of contactless payments is approaching 30 per cent, even though Woolworths processes double the payments' volume of Coles.

This data emphasises the shift in consumer willingness to "tap and go" (as MasterCard recommends) at the check-out.

A year ago, banking industry conferences heard plenty of frustrated commentary about the slow take up of contactless payments.

But trends have well and truly shifted in the last year, the Cards and Payments conference in Melbourne heard yesterday.

Earlier this year, researcher RFi produced research regarding which payment method consumers used in a typical month. In September last year, 88 per cent of respondents said they used cash, which was consistent with surveys going back to 2011.

In the latest survey, undertaken in March, that number had dropped to 73 per cent. Twenty-three per cent of respondents said they were spending with cash less frequently.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents said they had used their debit card more frequently during the previous 12 months.

Forty-six per cent of consumers now own a contactless card, and 26 per cent of these say they are making contactless payments "at least a few times a week". This number has increased from a little over 10 per cent a year ago.

The accelerating use also highlights the need for banks and the Eftpos Australia scheme to hurry up the roll out of contactless as part of the domestic payments scheme.