Europeans made 1 billion contactless purchases on Visa last year

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The latest figures from Visa Europe highlight the rapid rise of contactless adoption, particularly in the UK, which tops the European league table in terms of contactless cards issued.

Visa Europe’s data showed that €1.6 billion was spent in March 2015 alone, three times as much as for the same period last year. In the 12 months to March 2015, the number of contactless cards grew by more than 37% in the UK.

The UK now has 49.6 million contactless cards and 410,000 terminals, more than double second-placed France, which has 20.3 million cards and 405,000 terminals.  Spain may have only 11.5 million cards, but it tops the European league table for the amount of terminals with 593,000.

Unsurprisingly, the highest amount of contactless cards translated into the highest amount of monthly transactions, with the UK processing 52.6 million in March and UK users of Visa contactless cards spending €330m in that month alone. The UK was followed closely by Poland with 49.7 million transactions.

Visa Europe is clearly doing all it can to facilitate contactless adoption by making all of Visa point-of-sale (POS) terminals on the continent accept contactless payments.

At the moment there are 240 European banks who issue contactless cards.

The findings also highlight the relaxed attitude of the Europeans towards making higher-value purchases.  In the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain there is no cap on how much one can spend on contactless cards, instead users tap their cards at the terminal and input their pin.

People in those countries therefore can and do make higher-value transactions such as their weekly grocery shopping and restaurant meals.

Visa Europe says that one of the key reasons for such lively adoption of contactless technology has been its acceptance by Transport for London (TfL) as there have been more than 100 million contactless journeys since launch (85 million of which have been using Visa cards).

“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,” said Sandra Alzetta, Executive Director of Core Products at Visa Europe.

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