Europeans shop for convenience as e-payments skyrocket

Nicholas Mehling
3 Min Read
There are 12 million credit cards in Egypt, but approximately 33 million mobile phone customers do not use any method of electronic payment. (AFP Photo)

Contactless payments in Europe passed a major milestone as Visa announced three billion contactless transactions were made in the last 12 months—nearly tripling that of the same period in the previous year.
Figures show that European consumers used their cards 360 million times in April, which is a 150% increase from the 143 million transactions in April 2015, with the average valued transaction rising 12% to €13.83.

Contactless payment systems include credit cards, debit cards, key fobs, smart cards, as well as other devices, such as smartphones and other mobile devices that use radio-frequency identification for making secure payments.

Contactless payments as a proportion of all Visa-processed face-to-face payments have risen from 1-in-60 in 2013 to more than 1-in-5 today. The popularity of this convenient payment method is mainly in every day service sectors, such as restaurants, which experienced the greatest year-on-year growth of 253%. This was followed with a 246% growth in these transactions in general retail, a 219% growth in super markets, and a 196% growth in fast food.

Tristan Kirchner, executive director of product management at Visa stated: “This kind of success hasn’t happened overnight, and it’s down to the sterling efforts across many teams at Visa and the wider payment industry making today’s achievement possible while setting the stage for tomorrow’s technology, including new wearable devices, and mobile payment services.”

Today, there are more than 3.2 million terminals used in stores and restaurants across Europe, up 23% from 2.6 million at the end of April 2015. This rate will continue to accelerate as most new payment terminals deployed across Europe from January this year are contactless-enabled. Visa is working with banks and other partners to give consumers access to at least one contactless payment device by 2020.

Poland, Spain, and the UK have seen the greatest rise in contactless payment. British contactless adoption grew by 300% from 51 million transactions in April 2015 to 153 million in April 2016. The continued success of contactless commuting on Transport for London services is one reason for this accelerated growth, of which nearly 9 in 10 have been using Visa cards. Additionally, the launch of mobile payment service, Apple Pay, as well as the Barclaycard’s bPay solutions, has encouraged consumers to adopt new ways to pay. Some of the most popular contactless merchants in the UK include Tesco, The Co-Operative, Transport for London, McDonalds, and Marks & Spencer.

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