While the United States has been unenthusiastically transitioning to EMV card and terminals over the past two years, other parts of the world have been actively promoting the speed and convenience of chip cards with considerable success. In Australia, the poster child of contactless card adoption, 82% of the population made a contactless transaction every week in 2017, according to Mastercard.
The U.K. has seen similar rapid contactless card adoption, with 2018 being the first year that debit transactions are set to surpass cash, accelerated by the widespread use of contactless cards. This is occurring three years earlier than expected, according to PaymentsUK.
In the U.K., debit cards were used 11.6 billion times in 2016, 14% more than the previous year, with just over one in five of these transactions made using contactless payments. Cash was still the most frequently used payment method in 2016, used for 15.4 billion payments (3.8 billion more occasions than debit cards), meaning that four out of ten payments in 2016 were made using cash. In 2018, 13.4 billion debit card payments are predicted, of which 4.6 billion (or one in three) are expected to be contactless. Cash is expected to be used for 13.3 billion payments.
With some EMV card portfolios reaching their three-year expiration date this coming year, and with some highly compelling precedent for contactless card usage in other regions, a relatively solid base of contactless POS terminals seeding the market and a drop in the price of card stock overall, it can be expected that some U.S. issuers will bite the bullet and launch contactless cards in the U.S in 2018. PaymentsSource interviews with card manufacturers indicate growing interest and even small-scale issuer pilots of contactless EMV.