Swedish bank ICA will issue MasterCard contactless payment cards to more than 500,000 customers in the first contactless rollout in Sweden, the bank announced on Tuesday (Dec. 9).
The bank is owned by Sweden's largest grocery retailer, the 2,300-store ICA chain, which said it already has NFC-based contactless readers in all its Swedish stores. ICA also operates stores in Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
ICA said it began testing the cards a few weeks ago, and MasterCard is working with the bank and retailer on the rollout.
The goal for the mass upgrade is to reduce cash handling in the stores and move customers through checkout more quickly. “Future payments will head in this direction and we are pleased that together with MasterCard we are first in the Swedish market," said Marie Halling, CEO of ICA Bank. "This agreement means we will be the first to use this technology.”
Using the MasterCard Contactless technology also means the ICA stores will be able to support other NFC-based mobile payment methods when they're introduced in Sweden -- including Apple Pay. Visa has said it hopes to make Apple Pay available in at least some parts of Europe in 2015, according to PC Advisor.