“la Caixa” and Visa make Barcelona first city in Europe with contactless payments in shops and ATMs

“la Caixa” and Visa Europe have begun rolling out their contactless payment system in Barcelona. The new technology permits quick and contactless payment in stores and improves the ATM user experience.

The bank, chaired by Isidro Fainé and directed by Juan María Nin, is to make all cards and POS across Barcelona contactless, requiring the distribution of 1 million cards and more than 15,000 new point-of-sale terminals. “la Caixa” will also install more than 500 ATMs with built-in contactless readers, a service that has made the bank a global pioneer.

The “la Caixa” and Visa Europe project aims to make Barcelona the first major European city to use an extensive contactless payment system at shops and ATMs. Furthermore, given that the technology is the same as that used by NFC (Near Field Communications) mobile phones, “la Caixa” will also be ready to process mobile phone payments right across Barcelona.

The Barcelona contactless system serves as a further demonstration that “la Caixa” is at the forefront in innovation, becoming the first Spanish bank to roll out the new payment technology in major cities and extensive regions.

The new POS and cards will start being distributed in January. The “la Caixa” and Visa Europe project will get underway over the next few days, with the roll-out of new POS and the first cards going into circulation. Over the first two months of 2012 the service is set to be available to 50% of “la Caixa” customers in Barcelona, while the issue of contactless cards is due to be completed over the second quarter of 2012.

New ATMs, featuring contactless readers, will also start being rolled out in January. The aim is to have at least one contactless ATM at every Barcelona branch before the end of 2012.

Contactless technology is intended to speed up customer payments and transactions. Transactions are made by holding the card next to the contactless reader terminal, whether this be a POS or ATM. The two devices connect by proximity, without the card having to be inserted, and the payment is made instantly.

Contactless technology is considered the fastest card payment system currently available, making it an efficient alternative to physical cash. The system is particularly useful for micropayments and low value purchases, which are made far more conveniently and quickly by electronic means than by conventional methods.

Low value contactless payments are also beneficial for businesses, particularly establishments that attract large numbers of people, such as fast-food restaurants, taxis, newsstands, cafés and restaurants, supermarkets, tourist shops, etc. “la Caixa” believes these sectors, which process large volumes of transactions, will benefit most from the cards.

The contactless system is fully secure and includes EMV technology (the chip currently used in cards). For purchases of over €20 users will be required to enter their card PIN number to validate the operation. For lower value operations, where the contactless system has the most potential, users can complete transactions by simply bringing their card into close proximity with the in-store terminal. Furthermore, “la Caixa” ensures secure use of contactless cards thanks to its CaixaProtect guarantee; coverage that protects all of the bank’s card customers from any fraudulent use of electronic payment methods.

The “la Caixa” and Visa contactless system in Barcelona will be fully compatible with other cards and contactless payment devices issued by other banks, both domestic and international.