New data from Visa Europe suggest that the UK is leading the shift to contactless payments in Europe.
In March 2015, the UK led all other European countries with 52.6 million Visa-branded contactless transactions, which equates to about 631 million UK-originated transactions on an annualized basis.
- Over 1.1 billion Visa-branded contactless transactions were executed across Europe from July 2014 through July 2015.
- That means that UK probably accounts for over half of Europe’s contactless Visa transactions.
- The UK also leads in terms of contactless cards in circulation with 49.6 million, followed by France with 20.3 million. Even if we factor in population, the UK leads in terms of contactless cards per capita (see chart).
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It’s hardly surprising that the UK leads in contactless cards, because it’s adopted other new technologies quickly as well:
- Real-time payments: The UK launched the UK Faster Payment service in 2008, allowing UK citizens to receive mobile and online payments within minutes. Other developed countries like the US, meanwhile, are still debating how to implement a real-time system.
- Mobile and internet: Mobile and internet penetration were 131% and 84%, respectively, in 2014. That internet penetration rate is among the highest in the world, while mobile penetration is one percentage point lower than EU frontrunner Germany.
- E-commerce: In 2012, the UK’s consumer e-commerce spend per capita was $US1,754, higher than other developed nations like the US, France, and Germany, an Ernst & Young report shows. Even in 2010, the spend per capita was $US1,331, higher than the US’s in 2012.
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