The contactless card payment limit in shops will increase by £15 to £45 as part of measures to combat coronavirus, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced.
It is hoped the move will reduce the spread of the disease, as more casual transactions are carried out without having to use money potentially covered in bacteria.
The BRC, which represents all UK retailers, said the change will lessen the need for contact with devices- such as card machines- where people are required to input their pin.
The new contactless limit will become operational across certain stores in the UK from April 1, before it is rolled out nationally
Retailers currently operating at peak capacity due to high consumer demand may take longer to change their systems.
The decision to raise the limit follows similar increases in several other European countries, including Germany, over the past week.
Andrew Cregan, Head of Payments Policy at the BRC, said: “The last contactless limit increase to £30 took two years to implement but, given the extraordinary circumstances we face today, this new £45 limit will be rolled out from next week.
“Some shops will take longer to make the necessary changes, given the strain they're under. In the meantime, most customers can continue to make contactless payments for higher amounts using their smartphone.”
By the end of the decade, coins and notes could account for just one in ten transactions, according to a Government-commissioned study published last month.
This trend has accelerated since the outbreak of the coronavirus, with more businesses switching to “cash-free operations” at their sites amid hygiene concerns.
Costa Coffee and Ted Baker are among the high street stores which have said they are going to start only accepting contactless payments.
The World Health Organisation has yet to issue specific recommendations on the use of cash in relation to Covid-19.
It has suggested, however, that bank notes can carry high levels of germs, posing a risk of infection more generally.
According to research by the London Metropolitan University, £5 and £10 polymer notes already in circulation hold eight types of bacteria, including listeria, between them.