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Visa releases Olympics NFC and contactless usage statistics

“The response has been extremely positive and our priority now is on turning that enthusiasm into commercial mobile payment deployments across Europe,” says Visa’s Mary Carol Harris, adding that “we recognise that the journey is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Visa Europe head of mobile Mary Carol Harris

HARRIS: “Our priority now is on turning that enthusiasm into commercial mobile payment deployments across Europe.”

The 726 Visa staff, partners, Visa-sponsored athletes and journalists issued with Samsung Galaxy S III NFC phones equipped with a Visa mobile app used their devices to make an average of fifteen transactions each during the London 2012 Olympics, Visa Europe has revealed.

The use of contactless payments at the Olympics, where only Visa cards or cash could be used to make a purchase, also boosted overall usage of contactless in the UK in the build up to the event, Visa says.

  • In the 10 weeks leading up to and including the Games, the number of contactless transactions in the UK doubled.
  • There were six times the number of contactless transactions during Games time as there were during the same period in 2011.
  • During the Games the Olympic venues accounted for 15% of contactless transactions in the UK.
  • Contactless payments at Olympic venues over the Games period represented 10% of all on-site Visa transactions and 20% of all on-site Visa transactions under £20.
  • At some venues, such as Horse Guards Parade, one in four of all Visa transactions below £20 (US$32) were made using contactless technology.
  • Today, one in five Visa cards in the UK includes contactless technology. “The higher on-site transaction figure demonstrates consumer enthusiasm for using the technology when it is made easily available,” says Visa.
  • Overall, there are now more than 40m contactless Visa cards across Europe, 24m of which are in the UK. By the end of 2012, that number is expected to rise to 50m contactless Visa cards across Europe.
  • Contactless Visa cards can be used at over 120,000 contactless terminals in the UK and more than 378,000 around Europe.

“The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offered a unique opportunity to demonstrate the value and potential of contactless payments to our partners and members from around the world,” says Mary Carol Harris, head of mobile at Visa Europe, who provided the statistics during a presentation at the NFC World Congress in Nice this week.

“We’re pleased with consumers’ response to the technology and have gained many useful insights that will help make contactless a commonplace payment method,” she added. “Working with our fellow Olympic sponsor Samsung to demonstrate live mobile payments on the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone has increased awareness and enthusiasm for mobile payments among retailers and financial institutions. The response has been extremely positive and our priority now is on turning that enthusiasm into commercial mobile payment deployments across Europe.

“We believe strongly in the value of mobile and contactless payments. By 2020 we expect that half of all transactions over our network will be through a mobile device. We recognise that the journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and we will continue to work with all of our partners in the new world of payments to educate and encourage consumers on the ease, security and value of contactless payments, whether they’re made through a card or a phone.”

  • John Bailey

    Good to hear that Visa are encouraged. Our experience of putting contactless into the real world has not been as successful. We have yet to find a merchant acquirer in UK that will allow us to utilise a contactless reader (only) in an unattended situation. If anyone knows of a way round this, please get in touch.

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