Contactless payment reaches watershed moment

Europeans make 19 million contactless transactions in March 2013

London, 21 May 2013: Visa Europe today confirmed that contactless usage has reached a critical point of adoption across Europe. Monthly transaction numbers across Europe reached more than 19 million in March 2013. Over €1billion has now been spent on contactless cards and smartphones equipped with a Visa payWave app.

2013 has seen contactless momentum in the UK grow significantly with 1.5 million Visa contactless transactions being made on London Buses since December, M&S processing over 230,000 contactless transactions every week and the Post Office installing contactless payment terminals in all of its 11,500 branches.

One in four Visa cards in the UK are now contactless:

  • The UK made 5.3 million contactless transactions in the month of March
  • More than £39million worth of contactless transactions in the month of March
  • 22% usage growth quarter on quarter
  • 1 in every 4 Visa cards in the UK are now contactless with 26.9 million cards in circulation
  • 232,000 terminals installed across the country

Anne Van Schrader, Head of Contactless and Mobile NFC at Visa Europe, said:

"We’ve been building the contactless ecosystem across Europe since 2007 so it’s fantastic to see consumers recognise its value. Markets like the UK, Poland and Spain are leading the way in contactless usage and we’ve been instrumental in delivering great success stories like the rollout of Visa contactless acceptance on Transport for London’s bus network. By the end of 2013, Europeans will be making over 52 million contactless transactions every month."

Sacha Berendji, Retail Director at M&S commented:

"Contactless and mobile payment is set to be an exciting part of the future retail landscape. A contactless payment takes place in less than a second, creating a quicker, easier and more convenient shopping experience. Customers are already embracing these benefits and through our roll-out we’re ensuring our stores can cater for customers’ changing shopping habits."

Contactless payments across Europe:

  • There are now 58 million contactless cards in Europe
  • Contactless cards and phones with the Visa payWave app can be used at 797,000 acceptance points across Europe
  • There are 39 Visa mobile contactless payment projects live across Europe
  • Contactless transactions grew 46% between December 2012 and March 2013

* Figures from March 2013

Contactless statistics by market


  • 6.7million contactless cards
  • 16 million cards in the market by the end of 2013
  • 120,000 contactless terminals


  • 57m spend on contactless cards and phones per month
  • 10 million contactless transactions every month
  • 8.6 million contactless cards now in circulation and 116,000 terminals


  • One million contactless transactions in March 2013
  • More than 1.3 million contactless cards
  • More than 10,000 contactless terminals


  • 0.9 million contactless transactions in March 2013
  • 2.9 million cards in the market and 183,000 contactless terminals
  • 7.5 million cards by the end of 2013


  • More than 6 million contactless cards
  • 8.5 million cards in the market by the end of 2013
  • 69,000 contactless terminals

About Visa Europe

Visa Europe is a payments technology business owned and operated by member banks and other payment service providers from 36 countries across Europe.

Visa Europe works at the forefront of technology to create the services and infrastructure which enable millions of European consumers, businesses and governments to make electronic payments. Its members are responsible for issuing cards, signing up retailers and deciding cardholder and retailer fees.

Visa Europe operates a high volume, low cost business model that provides services to its members. Its surplus is reinvested into the business and used to improve capital and reserves. In the last six years, Visa Europe has invested over €1 billion in new technology and infrastructure.

Since 2004, Visa Europe has been independent of Visa Inc. and incorporated in the UK, with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. Both companies work in partnership to enable global Visa payments. As a dedicated European payment system Visa Europe is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments.

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