Visa Europe: Contactless Booming in U.K., across Continent (March 17, 2014)
Holders of contactless Visa cards in the U.K. made 94.3 million contactless purchases in 2013, a surge from the 25 million made in 2012, according to data from Visa Europe. The payment network attributed the strong growth largely to the spread of tap-to-pay systems on London mass transit, including “tens of millions” of contactless payments for buses. London’s transport agency has announced plans to eliminate cash payments in 2014—which should push contactless numbers even higher. Meanwhile, the number of contactless terminals in the country nearly doubled in 2013, to more than 300,000, spurred by contactless payment initiatives from major retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Starbucks, Waitrose and Boots.
Overall, Visa contactless cardholders spent a total of £618 million (US$1.3 billion) in 2013, including £82 million (US$137 million) in December alone. The number of contactless Visa cards in circulation in Europe at the end of 2013 was 32.1 million, up 125 percent from a year earlier. “We want to make smaller payments and purchases quick and convenient, and U.K. consumers are clearly seeing that contactless can offer them just that,” said Sandra Alzetta, executive director at Visa Europe. The network said the average U.K. purchase value was £6.09 (US$10.15)—comparable to an average lunch or small supermarket shop.
The boom in U.K. contactless payments mirrors strong growth in the rest of Europe, where Poland remains the market leader, with 158.7 million Visa contactless purchases in 2013. The U.K. was second, followed by the Czech Republic (30.6 million), Slovakia (23.1 million) and Spain (17.5 million). There were a total of 340.1 million contactless Visa purchases in Europe at large in 2013, with a total of 80.6 million cards in circulation, up 158 percent from 2012.