Belfast leads way in contactless payments with 60% rise in usage
Contactless payments have gone up by 60% in Belfast - the biggest leap of any UK region.
Overall, 'touch and go' payments on credit and debit cards soared by 79% UK-wide, while mobile payments increased by a phenomenal 365% in 2017.
Wearable payments, from a range of devices including watches and wristbands, rose by 129%.
Sporting good and clothing retailers, suppliers of building materials and speciality merchandise as well as department stores and service stations have all seen significant hikes in contactless payments.
Two in five outlets that accept contactless payments plan to be completely cash free within five years.
Touch and go spends at hotels have also jumped by 57%, with supermarkets up by 50% and convenience stores up by 46%.
Adam Herson, business development director at 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."
Touch and go spending is set to carry on rising, with an increase of 317% expected by 2021, saving UK shoppers almost £1bn worth of time.
Freelance architect and interior designer Donna Collins from Belfast loves using contactless.
"It's really convenient," she said. "I have to confess I've been guilty of forgetting my pin number sometimes and contactless avoids that.
"Another bonus - although he may not think so - is that I get to use my husband's card too, because before contactless, even though we've been together for years, I definitely couldn't remember his pin.
"I always think you can have a wee chat with people too at the tills when you're using contactless because you don't have to stop and punch the numbers in.
"The only complaint I have with it is that its limit is £30.
"I'd be happy if it went higher than that."
Human resources advisor and mum-of-three Helen Devlin from Kilcoo, Co Down, tries to avoid touch and go payments.
"My husband and I used it for a while, but we started to notice the charges can creep up on you because there's a delay between when you make the payment and when it comes out of your account," she said.
"You'd pay for something and it wouldn't show up for a few days so you could end up overspending or going overdrawn if you don't know exactly what's coming out when, so we just avoid it if we can. There's also the risk that if your card was stolen or lost, someone could get through a lot of £30 payments before you'd notice it was gone."