Contactless booms in Europe as MasterCard surpasses 1bn transactions

mastercard in the back pocket next to ten dollar bill

Adoption of contactless payments continues to boom in Europe, with payments made using MasterCard and Maestro surpassing 1bn in 2015. According to a new report from MasterCard, that’s a 150% uptick in transactions compared to a year earlier. The firm says 13% of transactions made in-store across the continent in the last three months of the year were made on cards, phones and other devices using contactless technology. It’s not just the number of transactions that is increasing, but the size of payments, which the report says climbed 183% compared to a year earlier.

MasterCard trails Visa, which put out its numbers at the end of last month and said that it has processed 1.7bn contactless transactions in the first three months of last year alone.


One reason for this growth is that consumers are increasingly comfortable with making contactless payments, with MasterCard citing research that more than two thirds of consumers saying they think contactless is “just as safe” or actually more secure than traditional forms of payment.

MasterCard contactless

The other reason is that the infrastructure to support contactless payments in terms of acceptance and devices or cards is improving. According to MasterCard, the number of devices and cards issued that can make contactless payments climbed 50% year on year in 2015. The firm says the UK is taking the lead in Europe, with the number of contactless cards up 188% and spend up 375% year on year in Q4.

The report says that in Europe today there are more than 10 countries with 5m contactless cards or devices in circulation and that they are accepted in 74 countries in the world. That now includes Estonia and Iceland. On the acceptance side, merchants are also getting on board, with a 72% rise in the number of contactless locations in the period.



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