La Caixa bank in Spain is launching a new contactless payment system in its home market of Barcelona. Based on TAP Visa stickers for mobile devices, the bank thinks that 200,000 customers will be using the solution by February next year, when the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 trade show will be held.
The Visa TAP sticker attaches to the back of mobile devices and is designed to provide secure data transfers. Inside the sticker is an EMV chip containing all the data required to complete payments as if the customer were using their card. The data transfer is fully encrypted and comes with security guarantees, assert the partners.
With the contactless functionality La Caixa customers will be able to make payments using their mobile device in the same way as they would using their contactless card, and with the same transaction limits. If the transaction is over EUR20 the retail bank customer will be asked to enter their PIN code into the shop-based terminal reader.
La Caixa has developed a free application to accompany the system launch, which will be available from the bank's applications store, CaixaMóvil Store, as well as other download sites, in versions for Apple’s iOS operating system and Google’s Android, plus the Blackberry OS. The TAP application allows users to view transaction histories and account balances as well.
The bank plans to issue the first stickers to 5000 customers in December. In January sticker distribution will gradually be extended, reaching 200,000 users by February.
La Caixa currently has more than 1.12 million contactless cards in circulation which can be used for low-value payments at more than 50,000 retailers across Spain. It has worked with the Barcelona City Council, the Metropolitan Taxi Institute and the Mercats de Barcelona to roll out the contactless system to taxis and municipal markets and has installed a network of 730 contactless ATMs that can be operated without requiring users to enter their cards. The bank says more than one million contactless transactions have been completed since the nationwide launch in January 2012.
The initiative will further Barcelona aim to become the leading European centre for contactless functionality, talking advantage of the home location for the MWC trade show, to challenge the likes of Nice, France, and London in the UK as a contactless and mobile payments hub. La Caixa is a major supporter of this drive and was instrumental in getting the inaugural Mobey Day, organised by the bank-led Mobey Forum, to be held earlier this year in Barcelona. Jordi Guaus, head of mobile payments at La Caixa, is also a Mobey Forum board member, and David Urbano, the director of mobile and social media at La Caixa bank, has also been involved with the Forum.