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UPDATE 1-Britain may raise contactless ceiling after pandemic payment surge

(Adds more detail on mortgages, consumer credit)

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Britain will look into raising the limit on contactless payments from 45 pounds to 100 pounds ($137) to keep pace with a change in spending habits during the coronavirus crisis.

Shops have encouraged contactless payments to minimise physical interaction between people during the COVID-19 pandemic and raising the ceiling will be part of a wider examination of such changes, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.

“People are increasingly making use of contactless payments. It’s important that payments regulation keeps pace with consumer and merchant expectations,” the watchdog said in a statement.

The FCA also confirmed on Wednesday earlier proposals that banks should generally not enforce repossessions before April 1, but credit providers would be allowed to repossess goods and cars from Jan. 31 as a last resort.

Consumers struggling in the pandemic still have until March 31 to apply for a payment holiday for mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, store, cards, catalogue credit, motor finance, rent-to-own, buy now pay later, and pawnbroking, it said.

“If you apply by 31 March, you may be able to extend up to 31 July when all payment holidays will come to an end.”

The FCA said that customers, wherever possible, should use online services for their banking, to minimise contact with branch staff, some of whom have face abused for telling customers to wear a face covering.

“This is a matter of concern for the FCA and we wish to thank the frontline staff for their significant efforts to keep branches open during this challenging period,” it said. ($1 = 0.7280 pounds) (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alexander Smith)

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