Spanish Bank Plans To Turn Barcelona into Contactless-Payment City
Large Spanish retail bank La Caixa will begin rolling out 1 million contactless cards along with more than 15,000 point-of-sale terminals and 500 contactless ATMs in Barcelona this month.
The rollout in Spain’s second largest city could lead to a nationwide deployment of contactless cards and terminals by the bank within three years and support La Caixa’s plans to eventually launch NFC-based mobile payment.
A bank spokeswoman confirmed to NFC Times reported statements by CaixaBank general director Antonio Massanell that the bank would spend about €9 million (US$11.5 million) to roll out contactless cards, POS terminals and ATMs in Barcelona and up to €40 million more through around 2015 for a nationwide contactless rollout. NFC Times earlier reported the bank's contactless rollout plans. The cards and terminals will support a Visa payWave application.
The bank has a total of 10.5 million cards on issue and is also a major acquirer in Spain, with 130,000 POS terminals at merchant locations. Its network of 8,000 ATMs is the country's largest.
La Caixa began its contactless rollout in the Balearic Islands last year, and as of September had issued 60,000 contactless cards and equipped 5,000 POS terminals, the bank said.
“This contactless technology will also prepare La Caixa for handling mobile payments when new NFC terminals become widely available,” the bank said in its release today. The contactless POS terminals will be able to accept both contactless cards and applications stored on NFC phones.
Two other Spanish banks, BBVA and Bankia, this week also reportedly said they would start to roll out contactless technology supporting Visa payWave in Spain’s capital city, Madrid.
The rollouts, despite Spain’s economic woes, could underpin NFC commercial launches in 2012. Telefónica, Spain’s largest mobile operator, has expressed particular interest in NFC and said last month it planned to launch NFC in its European markets starting in early 2012.
La Caixa has been involved in at least two NFC trials with Telefónica, including a large mobile-payment pilot involving 1,500 customers in the resort city of Sitges, outside of Barcelona.
The bank said it planned to complete the rollout of cards in Barcelona during the second quarter and would finish deploying the 500 ATMs in the city by the end of 2012.
La Caixa said it is the first bank in the world to develop ATMs with built-in contactless readers, which enable customers to make faster withdrawals. It installed a few of the machines last year.