The latest data from Visa Europe shows that uptake of contactless payments in Europe continues to climb with over 1 billion transactions made in the last 12 months. Figures also show that Visa cardholders spent €1.6 billion in the month of March 2015 alone – an astonishing three-fold increase when compared to the same period in 2014.
The UK leads Europe in 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).
Contactless technology has been widely embraced by consumers, retailers and banks with usage growing rapidly. 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 in the pockets and purses of consumers and used regularly at over 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.
European consumers are most likely to use contactless for everyday purchases such as groceries, restaurant meals and convenience food and drink. The data reveals that consumers are also comfortable using contactless to pay for higher value items such as the weekly grocery shop 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.
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.
British consumers are by far the biggest adopters of Visa 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 (TfL) 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.