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Contactless is conquering the world...

How did we do it?

The existence of contactless technology in the payments market has been a topic of much discussion and over the last two years we have seen significant progress globally, with many making strong headway with their contactless developments. One of the latest countries to announce its move to contactless was The Netherlands where three network operators and banks are now creating compatible NFC infrastructure to bring contactless payments to the country by 2012. However, it is the Turkish payments market in particular that has already achieved great success with the introduction of contactless in 2006.

Introducing new technologies into a market is no mean feat and it takes more than just stating its arrival. It is often a common mistake to assume consumers know about new developments and this is something we recognised in Turkey. With the launch of contactless we understood the importance of being vocal about bringing new technologies to market and the need to make a real splash. In addition, we found it essential to find places in the market where cash still resided as the preferred method of payment to allow retailers to step in and replace cash with contactless and thereby provide customers with an even faster way of paying. Therefore, the first NFC-enabled SIM card worldwide was introduced earlier this year in Turkey. Users are now able to convert their existing mobile phone to become compatible with NFC technology simply by installing the new SIM card, eliminating the need for NFC-compatible mobile phones. Never has a technology advancement changed the way people not only communicate, but also consume, than the mobile phone.

In the United Kingdom, contactless still seems to be a game of chicken and the egg where a lack of terminals has created little incentive for card issuers to invest in supplying contactless cards to customers. Conversely, retailers are reluctant to spend money on new terminals when only a very small percentage of their customer base can actually use them. In other words, a lack of buy-in from all parties has been, and to an extent still is, a big stumbling block for its uptake.

It’s clear that contactless can bring benefits to all associated parties. However, even with such promising progression in many countries, it is also reasonable to conclude that bringing contactless payments to the mainstream on a global basis will require not only better communication but also better collaboration between banks and associated parties. Until a more proactive and vocal approach is taken, contactless adoption across the globe is likely to remain uneven for some time.


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