Mastercard: Contactless Payments in Europe Approach 80% of Card Transactions; Pandemic Causes More Consumers to Shun Cash

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While contactless payments in Europe were already commonplace and continue to grow, the Covid-19 pandemic has created even more interest in the technology among consumers, according to a report released Thursday by Mastercard. The report includes a survey showing that consumers in eight major European markets say they use NFC-enabled smartphones and wearables for a combined 32% of all contactless transactions, a spokeswoman confirmed to NFC Times.

Mastercard, which has been wasting little time during the Covid-19 crisis in pointing out the virtues of contactless payments as an alternative to cash–viewed as unclean by many consumers–noted Thursday that its surveys in the eight major European countries showed that 42% of respondents “admit their use of cash has decreased throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.” And nearly three-quarters of respondents say that when the pandemic ends, they’ll continue to use contactless.  

All of that has helped boost use of contactless payments–both with credit and debit cards and NFC devices–to 78% of all in-store domestic transactions with Mastercard-branded cards across the entire European region. The figure came from Mastercard’s transaction data, not the survey. That penetration rate of contactless payments is up from 75% last month, said the spokeswoman. Mastercard did not say how the pandemic has affected total volumes of contactless payments since lockdowns have sent overall in-store transactions substantially down.

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