NFC Across The Sea: MasterCard PayPass’ European Success

MasterCard PayPass’ recent European statistics offer up something we haven’t seen for a while in the payments industry: optimism for NFC. spoke with Chris Kangas, head of PayPass for Europe at MasterCard, to discuss contactless’ growing adoption, why consumers are gaining interest, and how the U.S. has helped Europe’s platform.

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NFC Across The Sea: MasterCard PayPass’ European Success

In the U.S., NFC payments are frequently decried as a payments solution that solves a non-existent problem. With high cost barriers, a lack of consumer understanding and the need for massive POS overhauls, anti-contactless positions are easy to justify.

But those disheartened by the U.S.’s current reluctance to tap-and-pay don’t have to look too far to find an NFC success story. According to some recently revealed MasterCard PayPass statistic, growth in PayPass-enabled cards has grown 50 percent since January 2012. spoke with Chris Kangas, head of PayPass for Europe at MasterCard, to discuss the product’s recent success.

“I have to admit that it has been a truly exciting and amazing tipping-point year for contactless payments in several countries around the world, and especially in Europe,” Kangas said.

According to Kangas, European markets are finally beginning to see more NFC adoption for two primary reasons: first, all the groundwork has been laid, and second, the “self-momentum” created by more contactless acceptance.

“RFID is old news, really, and MasterCard has been working with this for about 10 years now,” Kangas said. “It does take some effort for banks and retailers to get ready to be able to deploy this, and building that groundwork is what’s taken some time. But now that it’s here, it’s created sort of some self-momentum. You have a lot of large retailers now upgrading their POS systems, and when they do, they’re deciding to upgrade to include contactless technology.”

That’s why we’re now seeing, finally, the substantial take-up in the market.”

Kangas pointed to the mass transit industry as one segment that’s found NFC payments to be very helpful, highlighting the Transport for London system, which accepts MasterCard PayPass-enabled bankcards, as one very successful case. He also cited fast food restaurants as NFC-files, as the majority of their sales are done at specific high-volume times throughout the day.

“Anything they can do to increase efficiency in the shop, including in the payments space, is something they take seriously,” Kangas said.

To hear more Kangas on Europe’s NFC adoption and what it could mean for the U.S., listen to the full podcast below.


*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.

Chris Kangas

Head of PayPass for Europe at MasterCard

Chris Kangas has been active in the consumer payments industry for the past 20 years. His career in the industry spans the arc of the evolution of payments going from check, to credit, to eCommerce, to loyalty and now to contactless payments.

He began his career in the back-office check clearing operations of Chemical Bank (now JP Morgan Chase) and presently is responsible for PayPass tap and go payments for MasterCard in the Europe region.

After leaving checks behind, he joined MasterCard in 1993 where he oversaw settlement risk management in the Latin American market and spent time developing MasterCard’s franchise rules and policies relating to the then emerging internet money transmitters like PayPal.

After several years at MasterCard, Chris spent seven years at Citigroup where he led the development of an online international money transfer service enabling consumer transfers to more than 150 destination countries. Following that, he was portfolio manager for the US and Puerto Rico credit cards business, and finally, led customer marketing for the Thank You loyalty scheme.

Since returning to MasterCard at its European headquarters in Belgium three years ago, Chris has focused attention on developing projects in the rewards and eCommerce space and as of this year has taken responsibility for PayPass in Europe.

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