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Uncertainty over contactless infrastructure boosting European mobile payments

At the end of 2013, there were 133 million contactless cards in issue in Europe.

It remains to be seen whether the establishment of a contactless infrastructure will pave the way for mobile payments to be conducted on a large scale in the long term for some European countries, concludes a recent research report from London-based RBR. 

This was one of the conclusions of the firm's "Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts 2013-2019" report. 

In countries such as Belgium and Germany, RBR said some experts believe the industry will bypass contactless and move straight to mobile for low-value purchases. In other countries, contactless cards are seen as a step toward mobile payments.

At the end of 2013, there were 133 million contactless cards in issue in Europe. Visa was the most common scheme for contactless, with 56 percent of contactless cards in central and eastern Europe and 58 percent in western Europe, accounting for 63 percent of the volume of contactless payments in the former and 57 percent in the latter. Most of the remainder is made up of MasterCard PayPass and Maestro PayPass, with a small proportion of Amex ExpressPay and domestic brand cards. However, scheme shares vary considerably by country.

In absolute terms, the U.K. is the largest European market for contactless cards, accounting for over a quarter of the regional total. The next three largest markets are France, Poland and Turkey, and together, these four countries account for almost two thirds of Europe’s contactless card total, demonstrating the concentrated nature of the market, according to a press release about the report. 

In terms of penetration, Poland and Slovakia stand out as the only countries where more than half of cards are contactless. Other countries with high shares of contactless cards include Ireland and the Czech Republic.