Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new “beep”?

Last updated: 19 December 2016

Contactless payments

When historians look back at the sounds that defined the 2010s, where might they find inspiration? The Grammy Awards, the BRITs, the BBC Music Awards, perhaps? While it may not be as tuneful as a sorrowful Adele ballad, we think they ought to look at the contactless “beep”, which has revolutionized the way we shop, do business, travel and enjoy public events. It’s a truly global phenomenon.

As we’ve discussed on the blog, mobile payment services are conquering Europe, Asia and the Americas, while contactless ticketing is now a necessity for any modern transport system. Wearable payments are also becoming increasingly popular, particularly “tap and go” wristbands.

With the festive season almost upon us, we thought it’d be a good time to celebrate how contactless payments are changing lives across the world.

Faster and more convenient shopping

All over the world, buying in store is becoming more convenient. With over 24 million contactless POS terminals  now in service and contactless transactions being up to twice as fast as a traditional payment method, customers can bid farewell to slow-moving queues. It’s not just customers who are feeling the benefits; banks and merchants are also seeing advantages. By embracing the technology, banks can tap into new cash markets. Plus, research shows contactless transactions increase the number of payments and the amount spent, so it’s good news for merchants as well.

This year, mobile payments became a huge phenomenon in Cyprus, thanks to Hellenic Bank’s PayBand initiative. The wristband comes equipped with an Optelio contactless MicroTag, which can link up to any Hellenic Bank card. Better still, Cypriots don’t need to enter their PIN for payments under 20 euros, making the service ultra-convenient. Elsewhere, 25% of credit cards are already contactless in Chile, while in Poland a remarkable 55% of all transactions are contactless.

We’re just relieved that Supermarket Sweep is no longer on our screens – can you imagine how quickly the contest would be over in the age of contactless payments?!

Seamless transport

Major global cities are equipping their transport systems with contactless technology. London’s not just Calling, it’s also beeping. TFL allows travelers to use their contactless EMV bank card to tap and go as well as Apple Pay on their smartphones. There’s an incredible 450,000 taps a day on the network, making the London Underground the leading contactless retailer in the world in terms of number of transactions in a day. If only James Bond had his Apple Pay-enabled smartphone with him when chasing the villain in Skyfall…perhaps he’d have caught him!

Contactless payments aren’t just speeding up travel for Londoners – it’s also made a huge impact in Taiwan. The EasyCard initiative aims to offer everything in a single card; bus travel, parking lots, payments at 10,000 merchants around the island, you name it. It’s also extremely secure, thanks to its use of the Gemalto Celego card, which deploys cryptography to protect the user’s personal data. The project has been a huge success, with over 5.7 million daily transactions.

Enhanced experience at events

Ukraine may have won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016, but the real champion was contactless payments. We’re proud to say that we were involved in developing the NFC wristbands available at the event, collaborating with Visa Europe. Visitors to Stockholm, where the competition was held, could purchase the band in the week leading up to the event. They could access a website with real-time information on their funds, and use the device to pay at any Visa-ready POS reader in the world.

A similar scheme was launched at rugby club, Saracens, in the UK, with spectators using contactless wristbands for season ticket holders to buy drinks and use public transport. The device also featured the specialist Optelio MiniTag technology, allowing users to manage their funds and providing them with secure data protection.

So, here’s our New Year prediction. 2017 will see even more events made smarter with contactless wristbands, and even NFC rings. Yes, you heard us right, rings to wear on your finger. Gemalto partnered with Visa to create a special NFC ring for the Rio Olympics, trialled by some of the athletes attending. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this technology enter the mainstream next year.

For more information on the global contactless payment phenomenon, check out our video below:

If you haven’t already, make sure you join the contactless conversation. How are contactless payments changing your life for the better? Tweet to us at @Gemalto or post a comment below.

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