Visa -20 million UK contactless cards by end of year

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The number of Visa contactless cards in use in the UK is expected to reach 20 million by the end of 2011, boosted by the roll out of NFC terminals at major outlets like McDonald’s.

There were 13 million Visa payWave cards in circulation as of March, up from eight million last June, and the rate of growth is expected to pick up further as more issuing banks and retailers embrace the technology.

McDonald’s has now deployed contactless terminals across its network of 1200 UK restaurants while Starbucks has committed to following suit. Meanwhile, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of America have all joined Barclays in issuing cards.

Transport for London’s decision to upgrade the Oyster network, enabling travellers to use their Visa cards for journeys, will also drive adoption, says Visa. The system will be in place for buses from February with the tube following later in 2012.

Visa is also pushing contactless in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, for which it is an official partner.

Mark Austin, head, contactless, Visa Europe, says: “Contactless payments are building to a genuine tipping point due to a combination of critical factors – more banks are issuing cards, major retailers such as McDonald’s are adopting the technology, and contactless travel infrastructure through Transport for London is being realised.”