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Latest data shows contactless payments approach saturation point

Australia already leads the world in contactless payments, with more and more made everyday, but new statistics from Visa suggest most Australians are now sold on this quick and easy payment method.


The following new data relates to transactions made by Westpac Visa cardholders in 2016 and 2017. It implies wider trends for Australia as a whole.

A trend that just keeps on growing

Even though the use of Visa payWave is already high, it continues to rise rapidly. Approximately 325.4 million contactless payments were made in 2017 (up from 258.6 million in 2016). This represents an increase of 26% or an extra 67 million contactless payments in 2017.

This steady growth was evident from the start of the year to the end (as well as year on year), with the number of contactless payments increasing from 24,645,921 in January 2017 to 33,422,181 in December 2017.

Contactless is now preferred in over 90% of purchases

The popularity of Visa payWave continues to rise compared to other payment methods. In the last two years, the ratio of contactless to other payments (which include chip, magstripe and contact) increased from 81% in January 2016 to 92% in December 2017.

Similarly, high contactless payments use is illustrated by the fact that 90.6% of face-to-face payments among Westpac Visa cardholders in 2017 were contactless. Contactless also accounted for 68.4% of Westpac Visa Cardholders’ total spend, up from 57.3% in 2016.

St.George customers are the most enthusiastic users of contactless

While the number of Visa payWave payments that people are making is extremely high throughout the Westpac Group, St.George customers have the highest usage. In 2017, the ratio of contactless payments for St.George customers was 94.6%, while for Westpac customers it was 81.3%.

Another interesting insight revealed by the data was that Westpac customers use contactless payments for bigger credit purchases than debit purchases. On average, they spend 40% more on contactless credit card payments than contactless debit card payments.

The quick and easy way to pay at more retailers than ever

While Visa payWave payments continue to increase across a diverse range of industries, some types of purchases are still more popular than others. And when it comes to identifying what consumers use contactless for most frequently, the common theme seems to be food.

The data shows that fast food is the most popular industry for contactless payment, with 98% of all quick service restaurant (QSR) payments in 2017 being contactless. This is followed by other restaurants at 96%, and then food & grocery, and discount stores at 93% each. Interestingly, only 59% of healthcare payments were contactless.

“Our customers seem to prefer contactless for purchases where speed and simplicity are ideal,” says Throshni Naidoo, Head of Payments Strategy at Westpac. “Higher purchase volumes associated with eating out and shopping support this – they’re situations where time-poor consumers prefer a way to pay that lets them to get back to what’s important.”

The payment method of choice for the future

In summary, this continuing growth in the number of Visa payWave purchases and the amount that customers are spending highlights the fact that Australians are not only comfortable using contactless technology but confident about its security.

All Westpac cardholders benefit from the bank’s 24/7 fraud detection system, which can quickly detect any unusual cardholder activity. In addition, Westpac’s Fraud Money Back Guarantee reimburses cardholders for any unauthorised transaction where they haven’t contributed to the loss.*


Things you should know

*Westpac Fraud Money Back Guarantee ensures that customers will be reimbursed for any payments, provided that the customer has contacted Westpac promptly and not contributed to the loss. Refer to the cards’ terms and conditions for full details, including when a customer will be liable.


#Card on Hold: Available on personal credit and Mastercard® debit cards only. Cards to which a temporary lock can be applied will be listed when you sign in to Mobile Banking or Online Banking and visit Lock a card temporarily under Cards services. Daily and weekly limits apply. See  Westpac Emergency CashTM and Westpac Get CashTM Terms and conditions (PDF 115KB) for details. This information is intended as factual information, and not as advice. It is an overview only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. Read your product T&Cs before deciding.  

Based on a study of transaction data conducted by Visa in early 2018. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa Worldwide PTe Limited. Mastercard® and the Mastercard brand mark are registered trademarks

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.