Contactless Card Fraud Has Doubled

If you’re running a leisure business you’ll know how common contactless card payments have become, from making purchasing in cafes to one-day membership passes and probably won’t be surprised to find out that the UK’s fraud reporting service, Action Fraud, has reported contactless card fraud doubled in 2018 to £1.8m stolen compared with £711,000 in 2017.

Average theft amount increased

The latest Action Fraud figures have also revealed the average theft through contactless fraud in 2018 rose to £657, compared with £493 in 2017.

Back in February 2017, figures from UK Finance showed contactless card fraud had already overtaken cheque fraud, prompting finance experts to warn banks against raising the £30 limit for payments to avoid incentivising more criminals to steal them.

Contactless technology

Contactless cards incorporate a special chip that can be read quickly and easily by a payment terminal (without making direct contact), meaning entering a PIN is not necessary, thereby speeding up transactions and often reducing the queue at the bar more quickly.

How can hundreds be stolen? I thought it was only up to £30?

Current rules mean only payments of up to £30 can be made using contactless technology and, as such, many of the contactless thefts have involved the thieves taking multiple small amounts using the same card so that users don’t notice immediately.

Why the doubling of contactless card fraud?

Many commentators believe the simple fact that contactless is overtaking chip and PIN as the most popular way of paying for goods and services now and that a PIN is not required to use a stolen card, are the main reasons why contactless card fraud levels have soared.

Worldpay figures, for example, show that more card payments were made using contactless technology than chip and PIN in the UK over the year from June 2017 to June 2018 and that after increasing by 30% on the previous year, contactless payments are now the most used card payments in shops.  Yolt figures show that 76% of Britons have used contactless payments and 40% make half or more of their card payments using contactless.


Even though UK Finance, the body which represents many banks, is quick to point out that no contactless fraud has been recorded on cards still in the possession of the original owner, contactless cards have robust security features built-in and customers are fully protected against any losses from contactless card fraud, the Action Fraud figures still appear to show a security problem.

This problem has not gone unnoticed by consumers.  For example, even though many of us are now used to having and using contactless technology, MoneySuperMarket research from as recently as last September showed that 55% of those surveyed had concerns about the security of tap-and-go technology.

What does this mean for your leisure business?

For gyms and leisure centres alike, contactless payments allow your business to work faster and more efficiently. more and more leisure businesses are selling protein-packed food and drink alongside other health-focused food and beverages which contacless payment makes this so much easier. People wanting one-day membership passes as well as purchasing merchandise or activewear from you also gives contactless payment a real purpose within your business.

However, there are still security concerns for customers but you can help keep everyone safe with a good CCTV system to prevent their contectless cards from being stolen. Having a secure netwrok from Astaris, gyms and leisure businesses can also be PCI compliant (and avoid those additional card merchants fees and keep you and your members secure, so they can buy with confidence.

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