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  • Contactless transactions grew 250% in the UK, accelerating the shift from cash to electronic payments
  • Overall, 9.6% growth in point-of-sale spend and 11.5% growth in number of transactions in the UK
  • Revenues grew by 25% in FY 2015 across European markets

Britain has become a cash-second nation as consumers increasingly use cards, mobile phones and wearables to pay for goods and services. In a year when more payments were made electronically rather than with cash for the first time in the UK, Visa Europe saw point-of-sale spend rise 9.6% and the number of transactions in the country grow 11.5%.

The UK is at the forefront of the consumer spending move from cash to electronic, outpacing most European countries. This is most clearly demonstrated by the surge in contactless payments, which grew 250% year-on-year. Contactless now accounts for 1-in-7 Visa transactions, up from just 1-in-25 a year ago. More than one million Visa contactless transactions are now happening every day on Transport for London’s network – Visa’s biggest contactless merchant. Beyond London, supermarkets have been a key driver for contactless nationwide, resulting in 60% of these transactions now occurring outside the capital.

More than £1 in every £3 spent in the UK is now on a Visa card, yet fraud remains below 5p in every £100 spent.

Across its 38 European markets as a whole, Visa Europe reported record revenues of €2.31bn – up 25% year-on year (year to June 2015). Costs have been held flat for a third successive year and the organisation has returned a record €739 million to its member-shareholders in the form of rebates and joint-investment initiatives.

Visa Europe CEO Nicolas Huss said: “Our new Annual Report shows that, financially, this was our most successful year ever – and by quite some distance. We’ve done that while maintaining always on delivery with 100% availability of our systems for more than 100 months in a row and maintaining trust in the system by keeping fraud at record low levels and investing in multiple layers of cyber and data security.”

UK and Ireland MD Kevin Jenkins added: “In the UK, contactless has become the “new normal”. Low-value contactless payments now make up 1-in-7 face-to-face Visa transactions, compared to 1-in-25 just one year ago. 60% of contactless transactions now take place outside the M25, confirming this isn’t just a London phenomenon. At this rate, cash will be seen as a peculiar way of paying for things in as little as five years’ time.

“Mobile payments will accelerate this change and we’ve invested in the infrastructure for it to take off. Almost 460,000 terminals across all of the UK are now ready for face-to-face contactless and mobile payments. From here on, every acceptance device that’s ever installed or upgraded will be contactless as standard. We’ve also launched a tokenisation service that supported Apple Pay’s debut in the UK, and is set to become the basis for more payment products and solutions in the months and years ahead.”

“The UK has always been a global-pace setter for payments. The accelerated shift to electronic payments is shaping the future of commerce, bringing tangible benefits to retailers enabling them to grow their businesses and to consumers by enabling them to pay where and when they choose, and on any device.”

The time is right for Visa to come together as one global company

Visa Inc. and Visa Europe announced in November a definitive agreement for Visa Inc. to acquire Visa Europe, creating a single global company. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in Visa Inc.’s fiscal third quarter of 2016 (April-June).

Kevin Jenkins added: “A combined Visa will be better positioned to accelerate the next generation of payments in the UK. The deal will give consumers and financial institutions across the UK greater access to global scale, technologies, investment and resources.”