Switzerland goes contactless with SIX Payment Services
Switzerland’s SIX Payment Services has begun distributing the country’s first contactless debit cards, through a partnership with local bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, based in Aargau. The project, which began in December, replaces the bank’s entire portfolio of 22,000 debit cards with dual interface V PAY cards that enable contactless and regular transactions.
On the V PAY system, all transactions are solely chip-based – a feature that increases security. Proponents also claim that the system is more efficient for merchants at check-out because it saves customers time. V PAY cards have been issued in Switzerland by UBS and Raiffeisen since early 2014, but these were credit and pre-paid cards, not debit cards.
SIX will be supporting the bank with consulting services for the specification of the chips as well as the central project co-ordination with Visa as card scheme and the personalisation bureau, and full issuer processing services. SIX will also ensure the nationwide acceptance of V PAY payments at SIX terminals.
“Although we are a small bank we wanted to be at the forefront of the industry – and as our established partner, SIX was ideally placed to facilitate the initiative,” said Marianne Wildi, chief executive at Hypothekarbank Lenzburg. “The technical implementation was not difficult for the bank because the adaptions to the core banking system were minimal and SIX assumed the role of central project coordinator.”
The number of contactless payment cards being used globally is set to reach 249 million this year, according to a report published by Juniper Research in November. Uptake is expected to grow mainly in early adopter countries such as Australia, Canada, Poland and the UK, although in the medium term, the US is expected to account for a large increase, as the regulator forces firms to move away from magnetic stripe cards towards full EMV.