10th anniversary of the first contactless payment


The share of contactless payments will more than triple in the next five years to almost eradicate cash in the UK. As we mark the 10th anniversary of the first contactless payment, it begs the question whether the new five and ten-pound notes will ever reach a milestone anniversary of their own. In fact, considering that a third of UK consumers claim they never use cash anymore[1], and 59 per cent believing that the UK will become a cashless society soon, the future of cash seems bleak.

Whilst contactless has transformed how people pay in London now, looking back, the public was initially slow to embrace the technology, where it was mostly confined to coffee shops. Even when Visa heavily promoted the format during the London Olympics five years after it was introduced, usage was still negligible. This slow initial uptake highlights how multiple factors need to come together, such as retailers deploying new terminals, banks issuing NFC cards, and consumers learning the benefit for it to be a widespread success.

But over the last three years in particular, accelerated by apps such as Apple Pay and Android Pay, it’s clear the pieces of the contactless puzzle have aligned. Contactless is becoming the norm for everyday purchases and in doing so, replacing cash. So long as this trend continues to accelerates at this current speed, the cashless future may be closer than we realise.


[1] Research by Arlington Research on behalf of PPRO Group carried out 19 – 21 April 2017 speaking to 2000 UK adults.