Two major Dutch banks to introduce contactless debit cards

The Netherlands will be the largest contactless MasterCard country in Europe

Major Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro will introduce MasterCard PayPass contactless payment cards to their customers by mid-2013, making the Netherlands the largest PayPass debit card country in Europe, MasterCard announced on Wednesday.

Using a PayPass card, users will be able to tap their cards against payment terminals to make a transaction. The technology works with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips to connect.

When ABN and ING switch to PayPass, the vast majority of Dutch citizens will have access to contactless payments with their debit cards, said Chris Kangas, MasterCard's head of PayPass product management Europe.

"It will create a heavy impact in the Dutch market," Kangas said. ING serves 8.2 million private customers and ABN says it serves about 6.8 million private customers, while the Dutch population amounts to roughly 16.8 million.

Despite the significant growth in the number of debit card payments in recent years, 63 percent of all retail payments are still cash, ING said. By introducing contactless payments the banks want to make shopping safer and more efficient.

Contactless payments are useful for merchants and retailers, reducing the time customers have to wait at the register to pay for groceries, for instance, said ING spokeswoman Marie-Louise Oster-Mazel. ING will probably limit the PayPass amount that can be used to ¬25 (US$33) or ¬10 per transaction, she said. "And after two or three transactions customers have to re-identify themselves by keying in their PIN code," she added.

Introducing this new technology means that retailers will have to adjust or replace their current point-of-sale terminals, Kangas said. "That is what we hope will happen," he added.

Introducing PayPass in the Netherlands will also pave the way for mobile payments via NFC, MasterCard said. The banks expect consumers will be able to pay with their NFC-enabled smartphones at the register by the second half of 2013.

PayPass is currently available in 41 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. In Europe, 22 countries are PayPass-enabled with more than 1 million cards issued, according to MasterCard.

"Other markets in Europe have had a more organic growth," Kangas said. The most advanced PayPass using country in Europe to date is Poland where more than 10 percent of all MasterCard and Maestro payments are contactless, but the collaboration with the two big banks will make the Netherlands the largest PayPass country in Europe.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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