April 07, 2021 at 10:22PM

Visa has processed one billion additional contactless payments in Europe since the transaction limit was increased in countries across the continent a year ago, Visa said on Wednesday (April 7) in a press release.

“The demand for touch-free payments indicates that contactless has become the norm for European consumers and retailers,” Charlotte Hogg, CEO of Visa’s Europe operations, said in the press release.

Twenty-nine European countries raised their contactless transaction limits as much as 50 percent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated both consumer and merchant demand for touchless experiences. Sixty-five percent of consumers around the world would choose contactless payments as often or more than they currently do, according to the press release, which cited Visa research.

Over 80 percent of in-store Visa payments in Europe are now made via contactless solutions, the press release stated. Customers opt for contactless solutions because they offer greater speed, convenience and security, Hogg added.

“Contactless remains one of the most secure ways to pay, experiencing one of the lowest rates of fraud across all payment methods. For these reasons, consumers trust contactless payments – and now they also expect to be able to make them wherever they are shopping,” Visa wrote in a separate blog post announcing the milestone.

The shift is especially discernable in the United Kingdom, which claims 400 million of Visa’s one billion contactless transactions. The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority also recently announced that it will increase its contactless payment limit even further: to £100 for single transactions and £300 for multiple transactions, to support and encourage the nation’s digital and contactless transformation.

As global economies continue to reopen, the availability of secure ways to shop, pay and interact with local businesses becomes all the more important to allow customers to shop the way they want, “while supporting the economic recovery.”

“Continuing to enable contactless payments is also a step in the right direction when it comes to enabling Europe’s economic recovery as restrictions ease and retailers look to capitalize on increasing consumer confidence,” Visa’s blog post noted.

In fact, businesses that embrace the shift are more optimistic than before. “They have found new clients through embracing this digital transformation,” Kevin Phalen, Visa’s global head of business solutions, told PYMNTS recently.

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