The use of contactless card payments in Britain more than trebled over the past 12 months with shoppers growing increasingly accustomed to the use of "wave and pay", research from Visa Europe showed on 26 January.

According to the payment business provider, one in seven sales were now completed via "wave and pay" readers compared with one in 25 a year ago, a sharp increase driven by the introduction in late 2014 of contactless fares on the Transport for London network.

"Sixty percent of contactless transactions now take place outside the M25, confirming this isn't just a London phenomenon," said Kevin Jenkins, Visa Europe's UK and Ireland managing director.

"At this rate, cash will be seen as a peculiar way of paying for things in as little as five years' time."

Almost half a million contactless payment terminals have been installed in British shops, highlighting how popular the payment system has become since contactless cards were first introduced in 2007.

"From here on, every acceptance device that's ever installed or upgraded will be contactless as standard," Jenkins added.

Shops such as Costa and Boots offer the option of contactless payments across the country, although Britain's supermarket sector has been a lot slower to adapt the technology, partly as the amount customers can pay for with a contactless card is limited to £30 ($42).

The figure amounts to less than half the average weekly household food bill and Morrisons, which introduced the payment system in March 2015, said 21% of transactions below £30 were paid for with contactless cards.

In 2015, 49 years since card payments were first introduced in Britain, cash payments were overtaken by cards, with Visa's UK transaction rising 11.5% last year with every day in December 2015 seeing more card transactions completed than its single busiest day in 2012.

Visa Europe is set to merge with Visa Inc, its sister company which first listed on the US market in 2008, and British banks are expected to receive a windfall in the region of £1bn from the sale.

"A combined Visa will be better positioned to accelerate the next generation of payments in the UK," said Jenkins.

"The deal will give consumers and financial institutions across the UK greater access to global scale, technologies, investment and resources."