Why European payments is a particularly great place to be

By Nicolas Huss, CEO • Visa Europe

October 19, 2015

Two weeks ago I wrote about how payments is, for me, the only place to be at the moment, and I gave 6 reasons why.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about what makes Europe the most energising arena to be operating in. So now I’m giving another 6 reasons why there really is no better place to be involved in payments right now:

Global pace-setter

Europe has always been a global-pace setter. Our investment in technology has always kept us at the very forefront of developments. Historically this has meant things like the EMV chip and 3DSecure e-commerce. Now it means contactless, wearables, and tokenisation.

Speed and scale

We don’t just develop the technology, we roll it out far and fast. Already we have 3M NFC-enabled terminals in Europe, while Spain already has 3 times as many as the whole of the USA. This level of reach for relatively new technologies is what truly sets Europe apart as the place to be in payments.

Appetite for technology

For all this development to be worthwhile, Europe also needs huge numbers of consumers and retailers who can’t wait to sign up. And that’s exactly what we have: Contactless transaction growth is off the chart, as we’re already seeing 1bn contactless transactions per year, and in London 1m contactless tube journeys per day. That’s per day. Then we look at Central Europe, where contactless makes up over 60% of all low value transactions. This kind of take-up is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Faster ecomms development

Even away from physical payments, the pace of change is fantastic. European e-commerce is set for 18% growth (acc to the Centre for Retail Research) which is faster than any other global region

Killing cash

Already, several European countries have done more than most to displace cash. Examples like the UK, Iceland, Belgium and the Netherlands show just how ready we are to move on from the idea of physical, tangible money, to faster, safer, more convenient digital payments. If you have a moment, here’s a great piece on how Denmark is facilitating this transformation.

The tech scene

There is no European equivalent of Silicon Valley. Europe is too dynamic and diverse an environment for all our innovation to be concentrated in one place. Instead we have innovation nerve-centres in London, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, Tel Aviv and many points in between. From this list of 25 fintech innovators set for stardom, published earlier this year, 17 are based in Europe (68%).

Perhaps the complexities involved in operating across so many borders and in so many different cultures drives us to more and more creative solutions. Or maybe Europe’s diversity enables our entrepreneurs to see things from a variety of viewpoints. Whatever the reasons, we can all see the outcomes: Pace, speed, scale, appetite, and a unique environment – a perfect combination.

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