12 Contactless Payment Trends & Statistics Worth Knowing

Learn how businesses and consumers alike are being influenced by the latest contactless payments trends


While the basic concepts may have been around for decades, the latest contactless payments trends show the speedy and secure form of payment is achieving rapid adoption around the world and across industries. One of the industries most poised for disruption by contactless payment is food service, where the experience of settling up at the end of a satisfying meal has gone relatively unchanged since credit cards came onto the scene.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here are the contactless payments statistics that restauranteurs, bar owners, and others in the hospitality space should consider before updating their offerings.

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When did contactless payments start?

  • The total number of contactless payment cards in use around the world is expected to reach 2.6 billion in 2023 (Research and Markets).
  • 97% of American adults owned a mobile phone and 85% owned a smartphone in 2021 (Pew Research)

Much of the conversation around contactless payments is contemporary, but the general concept has been around for decades. Contactless payments statistics started getting interesting in the 2000s when major credit card companies launched contactless credit cards in the United States. These credit cards are still a core segment of digital payments, reaching a projected total of 2.6 billion cards in circulation this year. However, other options that are just as common on the market allow consumers and restaurants to bypass cards completely.

As smartphones became more prevalent — Pew Research now sets U.S. smartphone ownership at 85% penetration — more and more companies have been exploring ways to centralize contactless payments around those devices. This is especially promising in the restaurant industry, where new methods of payment stand to bring greater convenience and efficiency to time-consuming processes such as handling the check at the end of service.

Bringing the CityCheers platform to your restaurant is one powerful way to put contactless payments to work for you and your guests. ExpressCheck gives guests the power to settle their bill the moment they’re ready right from their phone, increasing satisfaction with their dining experience and freeing up their table faster. Best of all? The CityCheers app is free to use and integrates seamlessly with restaurant POS systems.

  • 25% of consumers tried contactless payments for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began (Ipsos).
  • 65% of consumers said they preferred to continue using contactless payments following the availability of COVID-19 vaccines (Visa).
  • 79% of global survey respondents use contactless payments (MasterCard).

Pandemic-driven health concerns led many industries to seek out new ways to protect both their employees and their customers, and contactless payments were one of the leading solutions. A quarter of consumers used contactless payments for the first time during the pandemic, and momentum behind the trend is still strong. In fact, MasterCard found that 79% of global consumers currently use contactless payments.

Another survey by Visa showed that about two-thirds of respondents preferred that contactless payments remain after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The research also found that only 16% of respondents would return to their pre-pandemic payment methods.

How are restaurants benefiting from contactless payments?

  • 73% of survey respondents tip more when they use a digital platform than with cash (Forbes).
  • 51% of survey respondents tipped when checking out on a tablet because they were prompted to (PlayUSA).
  • A 5% increase in customer retention rates can increase profits by 25% to 95% (Harvard Business School).

The restaurant industry can be challenging even at the best of times. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and supply chain issues, restaurants have been particularly hard-hit in recent years. Considering the average hourly wage for food and beverage workers is under $20, tips are essential for these employees. Contactless payments at restaurants can lead to greater and more consistent gratuity for service workers, as well as supporting restaurants' overall profits by increasing customer retention.

Based on data from Forbes, people are likely to tip more when paying with a digital platform than with cash. About a fifth (21%) said they tipped 16% to 20% more digitally, while another fifth (22%) reported tipping 11% to 15% more digitally. 

Contactless payments can also offer a better and easier process for customers to consistently add tips. In a survey by PlayUSA, just over half of respondents said they left a tip when they normally wouldn't have because the check-out process on a tablet prompted them to. In addition, 46% of that survey's respondents said they haven't tipped because they didn't have cash. In short, contactless payments mean better tips for industry workers..

And it's not just individual employees who benefit. After several years where so much of our personal and professional lives went online, customers have grown to expect a digital option whenever possible. Contactless payments may have been a safety measure during the pandemic, but the figures cited above indicate that many people both want and expect them to be the new normal.

Making payment simpler on the client side makes that person more likely to return, and Harvard Business School research shows that even small upticks in customer retention can yield huge benefits to the bottom line. 

What is the future of contactless payments?

  • 67% of transactions could be digital by 2025 (Bain & Company).
  • More than half of smartphone users in the U.S. — 125 million people — are projected to use proximity mobile payments in 2025 (eMarketer).
  • There could be more than 4.4 billion digital wallet users globally by 2025 (Jupiter Research).
  • The contactless payments industry could be $164.15 billion by 2030 (Research and Markets).

Predictions from market researchers and surveys alike point toward greater adoption of digital payments; Research and Markets pegged the size of the contactless payments industry to be $164.15 billion by 2030 on the back of a 19.1% compound annual growth rate.

That growth will be driven by wider adoption and consumer interest in going digital. Bain & Company predicted that the share of digital transactions would rise from an estimated 57% before COVID-19 to an estimated 67% in the post-pandemic era. Other studies, both domestic and global, also point to the number of customers who will use these digital tools increasing by 2025.

These contactless payments statistics reveal that this technology is not merely a pandemic response. Since the beginning of its adoption in the early 2000s, contactless payment has been on the rise and will continue to offer new benefits to businesses and customers alike.

Want to learn more about how your restaurant can benefit from going digital and putting more bill-paying power in the hands of your customers? Contact CityCheers to book a demo today.