Contactless payment is continuing to grow in the UK, with Barclays reporting a 217% rise in monthly transactions since the start of the year, and more than 150,000 payments made using the tap- and-go cards in September alone.

"The latest statistics show that we are reaching a tipping point," Barclaycard head of payment acceptance Stuart Neal said. "The number of terminals has gone from 25,000 at the start of 2010 to 42,500 today, and this is before the Co-operative begins its rollout."

In July Spar announced that it would also roll out the technology to 1,600 stores and the Co-op has pledged to have contactless capability in all stores by 2012.

Virgin Money is preparing to offer the service to all of its two million customers, and Visa Europe estimates that there will be 12 million people with the cards by the end of the year.

Visa debit card charges work out at 1p for transactions under £2; 4p for those between £2 and £10; and 8p for between £10 and £15. Mastercard charges a flat rate of 0.5p plus 0.5% for transactions under £15.

Contactless offered a cheaper option for retailers, and reduced transaction times, Neal added.