European Department Store Giant Goes Contactless (Jan. 28, 2014)
Madrid-based El Corte Inglés, Europe’s largest department store chain, this year plans to upgrade the majority of its POS terminals to accept contactless payments from NFC-enabled cards and handsets. The effort is part of Visa Europe’s push to promote tap-and-pay technology across Spain, according to the companies. El Corte Inglés so far has converted about 25 percent of its 5,200 terminals to contactless units in its 80 stores in Spain and Portugal, and the retailer plans to have 60 percent of all terminals NFC-ready by the end of this year.
Consumers may use an NFC-equipped payment card or handset to pay for purchases up to EUR20 (US$27); a PIN is required for higher-ticket purchases. El Corte Inglés sells food, clothing, electronics, hardware and housewares. In October 2013, Spanish bank Santander paid US$190 million for a 51 percent stake in El Corte Inglés’ consumer finance unit, including more than 10.5 million private-label credit card accounts.
Spain is on the fast track to expanding its contactless payment capabilities, Luis Garcia Cristobal, Visa’s general manager for Spain and Portugal, said in an announcement. If present trends continue, about half of Spain’s payment terminals will be contactless-ready by the end of this year. Five million contactless cards are currently in circulation in Spain, and Visa estimates that figure will double by the end of this year. Separately, Vodafone this year is expanding its NFC-based mobile wallet, developed in conjunction with Visa, across several European countries, including Spain.