Contactless payments now account for more than one in five card transactions in the U.K., marking a sharp increase from a year ago, according to the UK Cards Association.

Payments leveraging Near Field Communication (NFC) drove 21% of all card payments, based on data gathered in August 2016, up from 7.9% a year earlier, the London-based organization said in a Nov. 3 press release.

Total contactless card transactions more than doubled to 260.7 million in August 2016 from 89 million a year earlier, with total contactless payment volume reaching £2.3 billion this year, the latest data from card issuers suggests.

London's black cabs recently added contactless payments, which should boost already robust uptake.
IMAGE: Bloomberg News

Consumers increasingly are embracing contactless payments for smaller, routine transactions, with average transaction size rising slightly. This year the average contactless payment transaction amount also ticked up, to £8.97 from £7.12.

Most U.K.-based fast-food purveyors and many retail shops support contactless payments, and this week all of London’s so-called black cabs added contactless payment capabilities, the payments association said.

“While more shoppers than ever are using contactless cards for small purchases, we are excited by the possibilities they will bring over the coming years for public transport operators and charities,” said Richard Koch of the UK Cards Association, a trade group representing the majority of U.K.-based payment card issuers and acquirers.

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