MasterCard Sees Major Contactless Gains in Europe (April 10, 2014)
Contactless payments are spreading rapidly throughout Europe, according to new data from MasterCard. During the one-year period from December 2012 to December 2013, the number of MasterCard and Maestro contactless transactions more than tripled, while contactless payment volume increased fourfold, the network said. Over the same period, MasterCard launched its first contactless payment initiatives in seven European countries—Azerbaijan, Finland, Ireland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and the Netherlands—bringing to 34 the number of European countries served by MasterCard contactless programs.
The network also operates 50 mobile NFC programs in Europe, and MasterCard- and Maestro-branded contactless cards or devices have been issued by more than 220 financial institutions continent-wide. And it’s not just MasterCard seeing some big gains in European tap-to-pay; Visa Europe last month reported a similar spike in its own contactless business in Europe, more than doubling the number of Visa-branded contactless cards in circulation between 2012 and 2013.
“The figures showcase how contactless payment has reached mass market adoption in several [European] countries,” said Javier Perez, president, MasterCard Europe. Perez credited retailer adoption as a major driver of contactless payments, noting that some merchants have reported that more than half of their transactions have been made via tap. Poland and the Czech Republic have been among Europe’s contactless payment leaders. In each country, contactless transactions comprised about one-third of all MasterCard and Maestro card transactions.
Mobile telecom providers also have helped bolster European contactless, according to MasterCard. The network’s partnership with Weve in the U.K. and its joint venture with a trio of leading German telecoms have spurred contactless uptake and usage in those countries. Finally, bank partnerships in Austria, the Netherlands and Spain have been among the key contactless drivers for MasterCard in those markets.