In recent years,”riding the contactless wave” has been a defining slogan for payment modernization, especially in markets like the U.K., Australia and Canada. The convenience of being able to tap a debit or credit card instead of inserting it is thought to make payments faster and easier. In the U.K. alone, over 107 million contactless cards were in use as of March of this year. Australians are so enthusiastic about Visa payWave and Mastercard PayPass that many don’t care about mobile payments, and Canadians’ use of contactless cards doubled between 2014 and 2015.
The U.S. by contrast, has been slow on the uptake of contactless. Contact cards — whether chip or old-fashioned magnetic swipe — still rule the roost. Bankers and analysts say this is due to the sheer volume of card issuers in the U.S. compared to other countries, and lessons learned from pilot projects that just didn’t work.
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