• Number of contactless payments made in Europe last year surpasses three billion
  • One in five face-to-face transactions are now contactless
  • Consumers in UK, Spain and Poland use contactless most, Visa says


The number of contactless transactions made in Europe trebled to three billion during the past year as the payment method gained traction.

One in five face-to-face transactions taking place across the continent between May 1 last year and April 30, 2016, were contactless, according to data from Visa. That compares with just one in 60 back in 2013.

Visa said the trend had been driven by more “everyday spend” merchants incorporating contactless into their checkouts, with consumers increasingly able to buy lunches and coffees at food and beverage providers using the payment technology.

Restaurants reported the strongest year-on-year growth in contactless transactions, which spiked at 153%.

General retailers enjoyed a 146% jump in contactless payments, while supermarkets said the number of transactions being fulfilled by contactless advanced 119%.

Figures from Visa, which now has 165 million contactless cards and 3.2 million point-of-sale terminals active across Europe, said that consumers from around the continent used their cards 360 million times in April alone – amounting to almost 140 contactless transactions per second.

That marked a 150% increase on the 143 million transactions recorded in April 2015, as the average spend increased by 12% to €13.83 (£10.92).

Consumers in the UK, Spain and Poland used contactless the most throughout the past year, Visa added.

British contactless adoption trebled from 51 million transactions in April 2015 to 153 million last month, with the “continued success” of contactless commuting on Transport for London services contributing to the growth. More than 400 million journeys have been paid for contactlessly since its launch, with almost nine in 10 of those being made with a Visa card.

Visa Europe executive director of product management Tristan Kirchner said: “The last 12 months has seen contactless payment continue its extraordinary growth as this quick and convenient form of payment reaches more consumers and merchants throughout Europe.

“This kind of success hasn’t happened overnight and it’s down to the sterling efforts across many teams at Visa and the wider payment industry making today’s achievement possible while setting the stage for tomorrow’s technology, including new wearable devices and mobile payment services.”