Spanish Bank Plans Nationwide Contactless Rollout

La Caixa, one of Spain’s largest banks, has an aggressive plan to roll out contactless cards and point-of-sale terminals nationwide this year and next, a bank spokeswoman told NFC Times.

The rollout would be significant. La Caixa has more than 10.3 million payment cards on issue, the most in Spain, according to the bank. It also has an estimated 21% share of the Spanish card acquiring market, or 150,000 merchants. Plans call for enabling the bank's large network of ATMs to handle contactless cards and NFC phones, as well, said the spokeswoman.

La Caixa announced last month that it would replace 130,000 contactless cards for customers in Mallorca and the rest of the Balearic Islands in May, sending new cards to customers even before they expire. The bank also plans to equip 5,000 shops and restaurants with contactless point-of-sale terminals on the resort islands this month. It announced last week that it had installed what it said were the world’s first contactless ATMs, in three cities.

But the savings bank has decided to adopt contactless well beyond the Balearics. That could include sending contactless replacement cards to cardholders throughout Spain, unsolicited.

"La Caixa is planning to install contactless ATMs around all Spain for 2011 and 2012," a bank spokesperson told NFC Times. "We expect that all our clients can have contactless cards and all our merchants can have contactless payment devices at the end of 2012."

If true, that aggressive schedule will be hard to meet. To date, no Spanish bank has rolled out either contactless cards or POS terminals. La Caixa's announcement last month of its contactless project in the Balearics represents the first move by a Spanish financial institution to contactless payment, outside of card and NFC phone trials.

At least one other large Spanish bank, Banco Santander, has expressed strong interest in rolling out contactless cards and terminals, a source told NFC Times. The bank, however, has made no announcements yet. Rollouts by La Caixa, Santander and others, if implemented, would make Spain one of Europe’s contactless hotspots and underpin NFC rollout plans by the country’s largest mobile operator, Telefónica España, which recently launched another large NFC trial at its headquarters. The project, which could eventually put NFC phones in the hands for 12,500 employees, launched last month with 1,000 people. It is seen as a prelude to a general NFC rollout by the telco to its subscribers.

In the trial, employees can pay for purchases and access work areas by tapping their Samsung S5230 NFC phones. Payment and access control applications are stored on Telefónica SIM cards.

La Caixa is one of three banks involved in this trial, along with BBVA and Bankinter. La Caixa and Telefónica also held a high-profile NFC trial last year involving 1,500 customers and 500 merchants in the resort town of Sitges, near Barcelona. In both trials, the bank issued a Visa payWave, contactless application.

La Caixa, which has also been among the most aggressive banks in rolling out Internet and mobile banking, with 1.8 million customers in the latter category, told NFC Times last week that so far it had only installed three contactless ATMs, one each in Barcelona, Sitges and Palma. The savings bank has 8,000 ATMs, which is the largest network in Spain.

They are believed to be the first contactless cash machines in operation anywhere. (ATMs secured by biometrics in Japan do not use contactless technology).

Figures from the maker of the contactless system for the Spanish ATMs, Japan-based Fujitsu, put average times for contactless cash withdrawals at 26 seconds–12 seconds faster than the average cash withdrawal using conventional cards, according to the bank, which said it confirmed the figures for the transaction times.

"Contactless cards need not be inserted into the ATM card slot before transactions can be performed," the bank said last week in a statement. "Instead, users need only wave their cards next to the reader and enter their PIN to operate the ATM."

The bank added that the contactless withdrawals are "fully secure." And in response to a question from NFC Times about the possibility of eavesdropping on contactless cards to steal data, the bank noted the cards are "protected by EMV security protocols and, obviously, by the personal PIN code."

"Anyway, a fraudster would have to intercept transmissions in the 2 to 3 centimeters between the card and the contactless ATM reader. If someone tried it, the customer would realize (it)," the bank said.


Apple Pay Enables Ventra Closed-Loop Fare Card in Chicago after Long Delay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple has finally made good on plans to enable fare payments through Apple Pay with the closed-loop Ventra card from the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, the latest major closed-loop card the tech giant has enabled in recent months.

Visa Rolls Out SoftPOS technology as It Seeks to Promote Acceptance of Contactless by More Small and Micro-Merchants

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight -  Visa is rolling out what it calls “Tap to Phone” technology to 15 global markets, as it seeks to enable millions of small and micro-merchants that now mainly take cash to also accept contactless EMV credit and debit cards and credentials on NFC devices.

Trip-Planning Apps Moovit and Transit Enable Ticketing and Payments for Another Transit Agency

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Multimodal trip-planning apps Moovit and Transit have introduced ticketing and payments in their apps for another North American transit agency, following an emerging trend for trip-planning apps to enable users to plan, book and pay for their rides all in one place. The app providers are offering the extra service as they seek ways to give users a better mobility-as-a-service experience.

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Seeks to Expand Involvement in Public Transit and Other Mobility Payments Projects

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the acquirer and processor for the open-loop payments service rolled out by Transport for New South Wales in Sydney, says it is negotiating with transit officials in other Australian states to help launch similar payments services. It also hopes to be involved in payments for mobility-as-a-service platforms.

Report: Nearly Two-Thirds of Survey Respondents Say They’ve Used Contactless Cards During Pandemic

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is helping to change the way that consumers pay, with more use of contactless cards, mobile wallets and e-commerce channels, according to the “World Payments Report 2020” published Tuesday by global consulting firm Capgemini.

UK Public Transit Officials in Midlands Seek to Replicate London’s Success in Pay-as-You-Go Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transit officials in the Midlands in the UK today are calling on the government to fund a London-style contactless fare-payments system across this large section of the country, which would enable riders to tap to pay for trips on rail, bus and tram networks with either closed- and open-loop cards and credentials on smartphones.  

Post-Lockdown, Transit Riders Want Agencies to Run Vehicles More Frequently, Provide Real-Time Arrival Information and Offer Contactless and Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight - Up to a third of transit riders in several cities say contactless payments and mobile ticketing would encourage them to return t

New York’s OMNY Project Completes Major Milestone, as Transit Officials Point to Steady Growth in Adoption

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is seeing steady growth in use of its OMNY open-loop fare payments system by customers–though overall open-loop payments remain small–as the agency continues its phased rollout of acceptance of contactless EMV bank cards and NFC Pays wallets. 

In-Depth: Trip-Planning Giant Moovit Begins to Enable Ticketing and Payments, as Rivals Make Similar Moves

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Moovit, which bills itself as the world's largest “urban mobility app,” has begun to enable public transit ticketing and payments from its platform, as it seeks to deliver what it says is a true mobility-as-a-service experience for users.

Los Angeles Transit Authority Follows Through with Plans to Enable TAP Card for Apple Pay; Google Pay to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another major U.S. transit agency has introduced a virtual closed-loop card for Apple Pay this week, with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, announcing the move Thursday. It comes a couple of days after the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, announced it had put its SmarTrip closed-loop card on Apple’s NFC-enabled devices, as well.

Apple Enables Virtual SmarTrip Fare Card for Apple Pay in Washington, D.C., with More Closed-Loop Transit Cards Expected This Year in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple added support for its latest closed-loop transit card for Apple Pay, enabling customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to tap their NFC-enabled iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for rides with WMATA’s SmarTrip virtual card.

Insight: Apple’s Long Game Pays Off, Conquering Resistance to Apple Pay from Banks in Europe and Beyond

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – It’s coming up on six years since Apple announced its groundbreaking digital-payments service, Apple Pay. And while consumer adoption remains a work in progress, Apple has had considerable success gaining participation from banks and other issuers in what is now more than 50 countries worldwide.