Business Technology

Visa contactless payments smash one billion mark across Europe

3 min read

07 July 2015

Former deputy editor

European users of Visa cards have collectively made 1.1 billion contactless payments in the past year, generating a spend of €12.6bn.

The milestone comes as the UK’s contactless payments market has been kicked up a gear in summer. Apple Pay is due to launch with retailers including Marks & Spencer and Boots, while Barclaycard has introduced the bPay wearable payments division.

According to Visa, it has 131 million contactless cards in circulation across Europe, and claims “there is no question that contactless payments are the new normal as consumers embrace the speed and convenience of touch-to-pay technology”.

Of the €12.6bn spent over the last 12 months, €1.6bn was spent in March 2015 alone, which is a threefold growth year-on-year. The same month also saw the UK generate the highest number of contactless transactions with 52.6m.

Although the UK has the highest number of contactless cards in circulation at 49.6m, adoption among retailers is slowing down progress. Visa said that Spain has the largest number of contactless terminals at 593,000 compared to the UK’s 410,000, though the country has just 11.5m.

France, meanwhile, has 20.3m cards and 405,000 terminals and Poland has 14.5m cards and 350,000 terminals.

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“Contactless momentum continues to build as more and more people discover it’s often the quickest and most convenient way to pay for everyday things.,” said 

Sandra Alzetta, executive director of Core Products at Visa Europe.

“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. We’re proud to have led the way in establishing contactless payments in Europe, and excited to be at the forefront as contactless payments become increasingly available to everyone.”

The firm claims that all Visa point-of-sale units in Europe will support contactless payments by 2020, while most Visa cardholders “will have access to a contactless payment device” by that time.

According to the data, consumers are most likely to use contactless payments for everyday purchases including food shopping, restaurant meals, fast food and drinks.

British shoppers spent more than €330m in March using the contactless approach, accelerated as TfL only accepts tap-and-go payments ahead of cash. As a result, 100m contactless journeys have been made since the new payment initiative was introduced on tubes and buses last year, and Visa has accounted for 85m of them.