Barclays Group PLC this week continued its efforts to make contactless cards a mainstream technology in the United Kingdom by issuing contactless debit cards to its business customers.

The London banking company's Barclaycard unit has issued more than 2 million contactless debit and 4 million contactless credit cards to consumers since 2007. In the next two weeks, it said, it expects to issue 500,000 to 1 million commercial contactless debit cards.

The move is "an important step in the widespread adoption of [contactless] technology," said Megan Bramlette, a managing associate at Auriemma Consulting Group in Westbury, N.Y.

The United Kingdom has adopted the EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specification, which requires people to enter PIN numbers to authorize purchases.

With contactless cards, people can make low-value purchases by holding the cards near a reader and without entering a PIN.

Extending contactless functionality to commercial debit cards was an easy decision for Barclays because business "customers typically have the same spending characteristics as regular customers," said Brian Cunnington, Barclays' head of debit cards. Small- and midsize-business customers are "stopping for coffee in the morning or buying a sandwich for lunch," as many people do.

Barclays raised the transaction limit this month for its consumer contactless payment cards, to $22.50, from $15.

More than 20,000 contactless payment terminals exist in the United Kingdom, and Cunnington said that raising the limit would encourage merchants to install more.