Visa Europe says that uptake of contactless payments in Europe continues to climb with more than one billion transactions made in the last year. Visa cardholders spent €1.6 billion in March 2015 alone – a three-fold increase over the same period in 2014.
The UK leads Europe in the number of issued Visa contactless cards issued while Spain is top of the league table with the number of terminals. The UK has 49.6 million cards and 410,000 terminals, followed closely by France (20.3 million cards, 405,000 terminals), Poland (14.5 million cards, 354,000 terminals) and Spain (11.5 million cards and 593,000 terminals).
“Across Europe, usage levels have soared, with more than one billion contactless transactions made by Visa cardholders in the last 12 months alone.”
Sandra Alzetta, Visa Europe
In the month of March 2015, the leading European market for Visa was the UK with 52.6 million transactions, followed by Poland (49.7 million) and the Czech Republic (13.9 million).
Across the continent, 131 million Visa contactless cards are carried by consumers and used at more than 2.6 million contactless terminals. By 2020 all Visa point-of-sale terminals in Europe will accept contactless payments. Currently, 240 banks across the continent already issue contactless Visa cards and the vast majority of Visa account holders will have access to a contactless payment device by 2020.
Currently the biggest use is for low value purchases (below £20 in the UK) where no further authorisation is needed. Visa says that in countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain, where cardholders can use contactless to pay for any value by touching to pay and entering their PIN on the terminal using contactless to pay for higher value.
Higher value contactless payments will continue to roll out at merchants across Europe, paving the way for mobile NFC payments, as banks and major companies launch mobile payment products throughout the rest of the year.
UK consumers are the biggest adopters of contactless cards, spending more than €330 million in March alone by touch-to-pay. The roll-out of contactless payments on all Transport for London services is one reason for this accelerated growth of contactless in the UK, as there have been more than 100 million contactless journeys since launch (85 million of which have been using Visa cards). In the 12 months to March 2015, the number of contactless cards grew by more than 37% in the UK.
Sandra Alzetta, executive director of core products at Visa Europe, said: “Across Europe, usage levels have soared, with more than one billion contactless transactions made by Visa cardholders in the last 12 months alone. The popularity of contactless will only increase in future as we experience the next generation of digital payments, where the simplicity and convenience is extended to mobile and wearable NFC technology.”
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