Cashless UK: The country’s top 10 contactless locations revealed

Contactless card payments continue to rise year-on-year in the UK, with more of us ditching notes and coins in favour of card and mobile payments than ever before. And while we’re yet to become a completely cashless society, parts of the country are embracing the change on a larger scale.

Europe’s largest merchant services provider Paymentsense analysed over 305 million transactions across the UK throughout 2019 to reveal which locations are using contactless the most. The data was recorded by over 80,000 UK businesses over a 12-month period, which gives us a comprehensive snapshot of consumer behaviour across Britain.

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The top 10 UK locations for contactless card payments in 2019

  1. Southend-on-Sea
  2. Twickenham
  3. Kingston-upon-Thames
  4. Uxbridge
  5. Jersey
  6. Bristol
  7. Cardiff
  8. Leeds
  9. Harrow
  10. Enfield

The North vs South divide

Interestingly, with the exception of Leeds, all the English locations in the top 10 were southern. In the north, major cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, and Sheffield all missed out on the top 20.

With a recent report in The Guardian revealing that more than 8,700 UK cash machines have closed in the past two years, no could be the time for them to begin playing catch up.

In London, contactless is king

When it comes to the capital, three locations within it made the top 10 – Twickenham, Kingston-upon-Thames, and Uxbridge. Collectively, the east of London has seen the most contactless action – 75% of all transactions there were cashless.

The Capital of Card Payments

In 2019, Bristol was crowned the ‘Capital of Card Payments’. However, 2020 has seen the city topple down the list to sixth place, just behind Jersey. Twickenham was the second most popular contactless location, while Southend-on-Sea took first place.

The popular seaside town proved to be cashless consumer hotspot, with 78% of all transactions being made through a contactless card. It has been suggested that Southend’s steady flow of tourists and its airport have helped boost cashless transactions, as there’s a lot of potential for multiple low-value purchases on food and drink items.

Yanis Zisis, Head of Digital at Paymentsense, had this to say on the recent findings:

For non-UK visitors flying into Southend to visit London, they will want to avoid carrying around cash in different currencies, especially when it’s now so convenient to pay without exchange fees on a contactless card.

“Businesses operating in regions which have a high percentage of tourists or overseas visitors will understand that offering customers the opportunity to pay on a card, at pace, will often make or break a sale, especially when competition is so high.”

But whether from international or domestic shoppers, it’s clear that people want contactless as an option and are favouring card over cash. With the report also highlighting an 8% increase in contactless payments from the previous year from 62% to 70% in the UK, it appears we are hurtling towards a cashless society fast.