Visa Europe is touting Slovakia as the showcase market for contactless payment technology.
Some 1.43 million contactless enabled cards are in circulation and consumers are using them to initiate about 1 million contactless transactions per month, or about seven percent of all Visa transactions, according to Visa.
Tatra Banka, one of the leading contactless card issuers, since 2010 has experienced explosive growth thanks to the technology, particularly in the past year. The bank’s contactless payments now account for about 44 percent of its payment card transactions. The value of those transactions increased to €16.5 (US $21.78) million in 2012 from €3.3 the previous year.
Michal Liday, member of the board of Tatra Banka responsible for retail commented on why Slovakia is a forerunner in contactless technology adoption:
“Slovaks like innovations. Since we introduced contactless payment cards in 2010 its use has grown rapidly. And nowadays our clients pay contactless with pleasure using their mobile phone.”
Additionally, Tatra recently partnered with telecommunication giant O2 to boost mobile contactless payments. Tatra customers who have NFC-enabled smartphones can switch their SIM cards at any local O2 branch for one capable of making contactless payments at the more than 12,000 contactless-enabled terminals scattered throughout Slovakia.
While contactless has yet to really take off in the United States, a number of European countries are seeing contactless payments grow significantly in the past year. The United Kingdom has experienced significant growth as retail giant Marks & Spencer recently announced it is processing over 230,000 contactless transactions every week (http://www.paymentsjournal.com/Page.aspx?id=16754&terms=marks+). The technology, however, still has a ways to go before it becomes a staple payment instrument in consumers’ eyes.
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