Contactless card purchases to exceed 522bn globally by 2026

RBR graph showing contactless card purchases to exceed 522bn globally by 2026
FORECAST: The number of contactless card purchases is set to grow by an average of 23% a year by 2026

The number of contactless card purchases made worldwide will increase by an average of 23% a year and reach a total of more than 522bn by 2026, up by more than 370bn on the 149bn recorded in 2020, according to a forecast by Retail Banking Research (RBR).

The firm’s ‘Global Cards Data and Forecasts to 2026’ also shows that the number of contactless purchases worldwide increased by 36% in 2020, driven by “many hygiene-conscious consumers gravitating towards contactless payment methods during the pandemic to minimise contact with Eftpos terminals”.

“Contactless rollout will accelerate in all 65 countries covered in RBR’s study, with 81% of all cards forecast to be contactless in 2026,” RBR says.

“The fastest growth in contactless cards will be in the Americas. Issuance had previously been slow in many countries in this region, but the picture changed in 2020, when Brazil and Mexico both saw contactless card numbers also triple as both banks and fintechs ramped up their activity.”

The research also reveals that contactless card usage is “most established in Europe, which sees the highest average number of contactless purchases per card” and that “consumers are already choosing to use contactless cards for many low-value everyday purchases they would have previously made with cash”.

Other factors driving the uptake in contactless spending include increases in contactless transaction limits in countries such as the UK, Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and the People’s Bank of China’s mandate that “all new cards must be issued as contactless”, the researchers say.

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