La Caixa, Spain's largest savings bank, has begun rolling out contactless payment systems across Barcelona in an effort to speed up transactions and bring the bustling, centuries-old city into the future.
Working in conjunction with Visa Europe, the third-largest financial entity in the country hopes that it can foster rapid adoption of the technology, offering it as a feature on 1 million cards and installing readers on 15,000 point-of-sale terminals and 500 ATMs beginning this month.
Their hope: that Barcelona becomes "the first major European city to use an extensive contactless payment system at shops and ATMs," it says. Despite the qualifiers, it's an aggressive goal.
It's also a step in preparation of broader adoption of near-field communications, or NFC, technology, which smartphones use to transmit information -- including mobile payments -- within a limited range.
The project is expected to take two months to deploy to 50 percent of La Caixa's customers, with the rest coming online by the end of the year.
The question is whether Barcelona's rich and diverse collection of small businesses -- from restaurants and cafes to newsstands and retail shops -- will sign on. La Caixa's hope is that those business owners with the largest number of daily transactions will see mobile payments as a faster way to do more business, instead of a new avenue for Visa to take a cut of their profits. (No PIN number will be required for purchases under €20, or about US$26.)
Visa Europe aims to have issued 45 million contactless cards in Europe by the end of 2012.
Photo: Christine Zenino/Flickr
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com