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MasterCard to lift limit on contactless payments by 2017

MasterCard will allow uncapped contactless payments on mobiles across Europe by 2017.

Just a week after the contactless card limit was raised to £30, MasterCard announced that will update its terminals over the next two years to facilitate higher-value transactions.

Currently only selected retailers can accept higher-value transactions if they are authenticated through features such as fingerprints on mobile services such as Apple Pay.

MasterCard has also pledged that contactless payments will be available at every point of sale in Europe by 2020. 

Despite the increase for mobile payments, the UK Cards Association, the trade body for the card payments industry, confirmed payments on cards will remain capped at £30.

“The capabilities of smartphones combined with the latest terminal standard we’ve been deploying in Europe for the last three years will lead us to a future where one could pay with their smartphone everywhere, said Chris Kangas, head of contactless payments Europe at MasterCard.

“The drive to full contactless acceptance is taking hold, as reflected in recent device statistics: in July 2015, 43% of new terminals installed had contactless capability, which is an improvement from 21% in July 2014.”

Ray Brash, managing director and chairman of contactless prepaid card firm PrePay Solutions, which is part-owned by MasterCard, said:

“Contactless has become the norm for many transactions. As a retailer, it has become vital to adopt the technology. You don’t want to answer the statement or question ‘go contactless’ with an embarrassed, ‘sorry, we don’t do contactless’.

“Contactless comes in many shapes and sizes: from mobile phones to rings, jackets and bracelets. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are only a few examples of disruptive technology that is leading the way,” he added.

Visa Europe recently said fashion retailers in the UK will be one of the main beneficiaries from the increase from £20 to £30, which became effective September 1.

Use of contactless cards has soared in the past year. Barclaycard has reported a 150% increase in total spend and a 134% rise in transaction volumes.

The UK Cards Association said transactions for the first half of this year totalled £2.5bn, already higher than the £2.32bn spent in the whole of 2014.

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