La Caixa Positioning Barcelona as Contactless Payment Hub (Dec. 4, 2012)
Dec. 4, 2012
Spain’s La Caixa bank this month begins an aggressive push to distribute contactless payment stickers to 200,000 of its customers in Barcelona, aiming to become a model city for mobile contactless payments by the end of February when Barcelona hosts the annual Mobile World Congress trade show. Though such NFC-based stickers lack the capability for direct integration with a mobile phone screen, observers say a sticker approach could help push a critical mass of merchants to upgrade to contactless terminals and prime consumer interest in tapping to pay for a broad variety of local products and services.
La Caixa so far has mailed about 5,000 contactless payment stickers to customers, encouraging them to attach the stickers to their phones. La Caixa early this year began working with local merchants, as well as the city council, Metropolitan Taxi Institute and local transport agencies to expand contactless payment acceptance throughout the city. The bank said it will accelerate distribution of contactless stickers to the rest of its Barcelona customers in January and February.
Participating customers may associate their La Caixa-issued contactless payment stickers with a mobile app, available on the bank’s Website as well through app stores for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices, to receive a text message confirming each transaction they conduct via a sticker, as well as to track transactions and check balances, the bank said. For transactions exceeding 20 euros (US$26), customers must enter a PIN. La Caixa guarantees all contactless transactions against fraud through its free CaixaProtect service.
La Caixa began testing contactless payments in the Spanish resort town of Sitges in 2010, and reported that tap-and-pay technology caused an increase in overall transactions among its customers there. La Caixa said it has 1.12 million contactless cards in circulation and 50,000 Spanish retailers are equipped to accept POS contactless payments.