ABN Amro NV this week said it completed a “prepilot” of a contactless debit card designed for small-value transactions involving a small number of its employees. The Netherlands-based bank plans to start a broader internal card pilot to test the technology later this summer.

The issuer is testing MasterCard Worldwide’s PayPass technology on its Maestro PIN-debit cards. Participating cardholders will be able to use the contactless function for purchases up to 25 euros (US$31). For transactions that exceed that amount, they will need to enter their PIN, an ABN Amro spokesperson tells PaymentsSource.

During the prepilot, the bank tested the contactless card in a shop inside the bank’s Amsterdam location, the spokesperson says. ABN Amro plans to expand the test in the fall by making the application available to more employees. The bank’s canteens also will participate and accept the contactless payments, the spokesperson says.

The purpose of the pilot is to determine whether contactless payments provide sufficient benefits to merchants and consumers. The company also hopes the contactless function will promote electronic payments over the use of cash and that consumers will use it as an alternative to Chipknip payments.

Chipknip is an electronic-cash system that enables Dutch smart cardholders to load value into their card accounts at dedicated loading stations often deployed near ATMs. All chipknip cards work at the loading stations regardless of the issuer. Chipknip systems, however, would become obsolete if the European payments market migrates to a single debit-payment method, ABN Amro notes in the release.

If the contactless pilot is successful, the issuer will provide existing accountholders a new contactless debit card at no charge, the spokesperson explains.

While the United Kingdom has been supporting contactless payments for some time, other European countries seem to catching on to the technology more slowly, notes Matt Simester, director of Auriemma in the United Kingdom.

“Even though there was a bit of lag time between the UK and (the rest of) Europe, other companies were probably just waiting to see what the best practices looked like in a different jurisdiction,” he notes.



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