Visa Europe Pushes Contactless Payments

Visa Europe is on a mission — and the latest step in that mission hit the ground today.

Today (March 21) the company launched its “Cashfree and Proud” campaign, which aims to inspire consumers to switch to contactless payments, if they have not already. Targeting those who have either not yet made or seldom make contactless payments, the campaign aims to shine a light on the ease of using contactless — either via card, mobile or wearables.

“Simply touch and pay for anything up to £30 at over 400,000 places with Visa contactless,” the company’s site reads. “The only change you need.”

While Visa Europe is eyeing a long-term goal of reducing the use of cash by 2020 — backed by a mandate that will make every POS terminal in the country contactless by that year — the U.K. is actually far ahead of the U.S. in terms of contactless adoption, as outlined by MPD CEO Karen Webster in her commentary today.

“Here, it seems that consumers really aren’t all that into contactless payments at the physical point of sale,” Webster wrote. “Apple Pay is the mobile wallet that’s been in the U.S. market the longest – launched in September of 2014 to much fanfare — and uses NFC technology as its enabling technology. We’ve been tracking its adoption and usage ever since —and have multiple observations over the 18-months lifespan of Apple Pay.”

Meanwhile, both Canada and Australia are also seeing spikes in contactless usage.

“Yet the speed and convenience of NFC/contactless at the point of sale that seems to be attracting consumers in the U.K. and Australia and Canada to contactless like Kim Kardashian to selfies, doesn’t seem to be that much of an incentive to the Apple Pay user here in the U.S.,” Webster posited.

However, Webster noted, both the U.K. and Australia do have one perk that the U.S. does not: heavily concentrated banking/acquiring and retail segments, which serve a very concentrated, well-defined geographic market.

Perks aside, Visa Europe has its sights on continuing to preach contactless to the U.K. consumers who are not yet on the bandwagon.

Visa Europe’s campaign runs through May and includes promotions that span radio, digital, social and more. To put some star power behind its campaign, the company has secured radio spots that will feature famed actress Joanna Lumley and actor Brian Blessed.

“Visa is looking to influence the breadth of contactless usage, giving cardholders the confidence to try it,” the Visa Europe press release states. “Target industry sectors for the campaign include: independent shops, newsagents (CTN), non-supermarket grocery stores and cafes and pubs.”

And while 2020 may seem a reasonable goal for the U.K., the U.S. seems to have a bit more heavy lifting ahead.


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