The UK has raised the contactless payment limit in order to help reduce physical contact as part of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus.

The move will see the contactless payment limit for in-store spending raised from £30 to £45 from 1 April.

It is hoped that it will speed up transactions and reduce physical contact in the few shops that remain open. The UK has ordered all non-essential shops to close for at least the next three weeks, and people are being encouraged to only make shopping trips when essential as part of wider lockdown measures.

The limit increase will be enacted within just over a week, although some stores’ payment systems may take longer to update. However, it represents a dramatic shortening of the time taken to apply a rise in the contactless payment limit compared to the previous increase.

“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,” said Andrew Cregan, head of payments policy at the British Retail Consortium.

“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 smartphone.”

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By GlobalData

Raise on contactless payment limit welcomed

The move has been met by praise from the financial industry, which sees this as a sensible decision to support already under-pressure retail outlets.

“As we all collectively navigate the current unsettling and uncertain times, providing consumers and businesses with a choice in how they wish to pay and get paid, remains a constant for us,” said Mark Barnett, divisional president of Mastercard.

“On this basis we fully support the increased contactless limit here in the UK and across Europe, cardholders and shopkeepers will soon be able to make and receive more of their purchases both quickly and securely, and without the need to enter a PIN.”

Read more: A cashless society threatens poorest most, finds study