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The UK’s top cashless locations revealed

21 February 2020 Data Insights

Last year we analysed Paymentsense data to reveal the cities in the UK that were tapping their contactless cards the most, predicting the top 10 to go cashless first. Bristol took the number one spot for contactless card transactions, despite London having the most card transactions overall.

For this year, we decided to look not only at major cities such as the capital, but also the smaller locations that are ditching their coins. From over 305 million transactions across the UK, here’s what we found: 

  • Southend-on-Sea knocked Bristol off of top spot for number one location for contactless payments in the UK in 2019
  • Twickenham was the second location with the most contactless transactions based on Paymentsense data 
  • Within the capital, the east of London tapped the most, with 75% of all transactions made on contactless 
  • All of the top 10 contactless locations are in the South of the UK

The top 10 UK locations for contactless card payments in 2019 were:

  1. Southend-on-Sea
  2. Twickenham
  3. Kingston-upon-Thames
  4. Uxbridge
  5. Jersey
  6. Bristol
  7. Cardiff
  8. Leeds
  9. Harrow
  10. Enfield

Major cities aside, Southend’s population and its touring visitors are well and truly cashless consumers, with a whopping 78% of all transactions being made through a contactless card. 

Given the location, which hosts a small airport where many fly into for London business trips, as well as tourists that may visit the seaside, it is perhaps less surprising that Southend took the top spot. 

The number could also be explained by the current maximum contactless transaction value which is sat at £30. With a high footfall across the airport, there is a lot of potential for multiple lower value purchases being made on food and drink.  

For non-UK visitors flying into Southend to visit London, they will want to avoid carrying around cash in different currencies, especially when it is now so convenient to pay without exchange fees on a contactless card. 

Businesses operating in regions which have a high percentage of tourists or overseas visitors will understand that offering customers the opportunity to pay on a card, at pace, will often make or break a sale, especially when competition is so high. ’

                                                                                – Yanis Zisis, Head of Digital at Paymentsense 

North vs South

Our data shows that all of the top 10 locations using contactless are situated in the south of the country; Leeds was the only northern city to make it into the top 20. Cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield all fall behind in the list. 

One speculation for this, is that culturally attitudes towards cash differ between the North and the South, however the demand for card payments is not dwindling, and it could widen the economic gap between the two regions in the near future.

In fact, it was reported by Link that in the first six months of 2019 alone over 1,200 ATMs were shut down across the country.

Our data also shows an 8% increase in contactless payments from the previous year, jumping rapidly from 62% to 70%, suggesting that the UK is edging closer to a becoming a cashless society.


About the data:

These insights have been gathered from analysis of over 305 million transactions, recorded by over 80,000 businesses in 2019, which provides a comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour across Britain. 

About Paymentsense:

Founded in 2008 by George Karibian and Jan Farrarons, Paymentsense is one of the fastest-growing fintech companies in Europe, and proud to be an industry game-changer. They currently supply card machines and e-commerce solutions to over 80,000 businesses in the UK and Ireland, handling annual sales worth over £10 billion.

Combining cutting edge technology, extraordinary customer support and unconventional thinking, they offer lower rates, better service and peace of mind to their customers. Their smart proprietary technology platform enables small businesses to process payments online, in-store and over the phone. Paymentsense has over 240 employees at their offices in London, Hull and Belfast. For more information visit


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