Mastercard contactless payments reach 78% in Europe amid coronavirus pandemic

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About 78% of Mastercard’s European transactions are now contactless, and the company expects the shift in payment choice will be permanent.

Mastercard research highlighted changes in consumer habits and viewpoints that indicate the preference for contactless will remain for the long-term. About three-quarters (73%) of Europeans surveyed by Mastercard claimed that the coronavirus pandemic ending won’t change their contactless usage, and 64% reported that contactless is now their preferred way to pay for in-store transactions. About 40% reported that they have switched their primary card in their wallets in preference of contactless payments. Mastercard also revealed that contactless mobile wallet usage doubled in the first quarter, going from 7% in 2019 to 14% in 2020.

“In Europe, Mastercard have always led the way in terms of contactless but the rate of, not just adoption, but engagement with this way of paying is clear to see. Having enabled so many countries to raise their contactless limits, we are now focused on safety and security,” said Milan Gauder, executive vice president of product and innovation of Europe at Mastercard, in the press release.

In March, Mastercard raised the contactless spend limits in 29 European countries. This was followed in April by raising contactless limits in Canada. Globally, consumers are quickly changing their views on contactless as worries about the cleanliness of cash arise amid the coronavirus pandemic.

About 89% of European consumers surveyed by Mastercard agreed that contactless payments have been easy to adopt, and 42% of admitted that their cash usage has declined during the coronavirus crisis. In the U.S., Mastercard research found that half of consumers were using less cash since the coronavirus outbreak.

In a related development, the national UK ATM fleet operator LINK has reported that weekly ATM cash withdrawals have been trending at 50% below 2019 levels during the coronavirus lockdown. Similarly, NatWest bank said that 70% of all new small businesses to its Tyl acquiring unit are accepting cards for the very first time due to the need to accept contactless card and mobile wallet payments.

“Fraud problems on contactless payments are comparatively lower than chip-and-PIN in Europe and that is still declining," said Rigo Van den Broeck, senior vice president of Cyber Intelligence Solutions at Mastercard, in the release. "Anti-fraud measures like the application of cumulative limits and sharpened fraud controls have been implemented since the contactless limits have been raised so people should feel confident that they are protected."

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Contactless payments Coronavirus Europe Mastercard