Contactless payments gain ground in Europe

03 January 2012

LONDON: Consumers in Europe are displaying rising enthusiasm for contactless payments, according to a study covering three diverse markets in the region.

Visa Europe, the financial services firm, surveyed 1,700 adults in the UK, Poland and Turkey, alongside conducting in-depth panel research with 500 people per country already possessing contactless cards.

Currently, 77% of individuals owning these cards agreed this method of buying products would ultimately become more widespread than the cash alternative.

Elsewhere, 87% of the same group thought gaining experience of completing transactions in such a way should fuel the popular uptake of making contactless payments using mobile phones in the future.

"The tipping point to more mainstream acceptance will be availability: the more chance consumers have to use their contactless cards, the more enthusiastic their response becomes," Mark Austin, head of contactless at Visa Europe, said.

In evidence of this, 32% of Britons with contactless cards have used them to pay for fast food, up from 12% three months ago, not least because McDonald's has rolled out touchless payment terminals in its branches nationwide.

"With the number of contactless cards in circulation in the UK forecast to top 30m by the end of next year and London 2012 set to showcase how the technology offers added convenience, the next 12 months provide an opportunity for the industry to capitalise on contactless payments and further connect with consumers," Austin added.

The factors driving “understanding and awareness” of this payment method included the information issued by banks before or after sending contactless cards, posting 55% in Poland, 46% in the UK and 38% in Turkey.

Some 15% of Turkish contributors also reported that communications like TV and poster ads played a key role in this area, a total reaching 14% for the UK and 12% for Poland.

Point-of-sale marketing materials logged 17% among the Turkish sample on the same metric, falling to 13% concerning their British counterparts and 8% in Poland.

Looking forward, 48% of Polish interviewees stated incentives, such as discounts, would be a major source of encouragement to use contactless payments once the related infrastructure is sufficiently developed.

Figures on this measure stood at 39% in the UK and 34% in Turkey.

Data sourced from QR Code Press/Visa; additional content by Warc staff