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Many firsts at the Eurovision Song Contest

By Christina Lind, Sweden Country Manager • Visa Europe

June 01, 2016

There were many ‘Firsts’ at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm in May. Firstly, it was the sixty-First show. It was also the First time a non-contestant music artist performed (thank you Mr. Timberlake for Bringing Sexy Back to Eurovision – that’s a First. Oh no it’s not actually, winner Måns Zelmerlöw performed in leather pants last year). And, it was the First time Sweden didn’t win! Jokes, folks. We only win every two years, everybody knows that.

Also on the theme of Firsts, Sweden has many times been predicted to become the First cashless society. Some Swedish merchants don’t accept cash at all, and if you’d ask a Swede where to find the closest ATM, they wouldn’t know where to guide you. Instead they’d probably start talking about Swish and other revolutionary digital payment services that they ‘just cannot live without’.

85% of the young population would pay for something below 1 euro with their card, and the average transaction value drops every year, in 2015 it was as low as 30 euro. But let me tell you something that might come as a shock: Swedes might not be as innovation-savvy when it comes to card payments as they think they are. Up until the sixty-First Eurovision Song Contest, if you asked a Swede how they pay at point of sale, they would look down at their plastic card and with a loving voice answer ‘with chip and pin of course, what else is there?’. Oh dear Swedes, you’re in for a treat. If we’re talking about revolutionary payment solutions this is it. Now there is… Contactless!

The future of payments has finally conquered the North. Contactless will be hitting Swedish soil like a meteorite this year. The majority of the Swedish issuers will launch contactless cards in 2016, and more merchants are upgrading their terminals every week. The NFC-implementation is the stepping stone – at First for mobile payments, but eventually for endless possibilities of ways to pay. With your wrist for example.

Introducing contactless wristbands as part of the Eurovision sponsorship and Visa contactless launch in Sweden, consumers started exercising the ‘touch-and-go’ payment technique during the music festival. The First Eurovision limited edition Visa contactless wristband can be used for payments at all merchants world-wide accepting contactless payments with Visa, until 31st October 2016.

So, thanks to Visa and our Eurovision Song Contest partners, many Swedes can now pay contactless for the First time. And between you and me, they seem to like the speed and convenience of it. Still a little hesitant sometimes, but fair enough, Swedes have had a very long and deep history with chip and pin. Actually, on average we use our cards three times more often than our fellow Europeans.

In summary then, Contactless payments and the Eurovision Song Contest turned out to be a great combination. Although the Eurovision Song Contest is over, the contactless momentum is still spreading fast and wide across Sweden. Stay tuned to Visa Vision for more First updates from Sweden.

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