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Contactless card uptake in Australia slows mobile payment adoption

Contactless payment cards are ubiquitous in Australia, and consumer acceptance has been strong compared to most other markets. However, in embracing the convenience of contactless cards Australians are shunning mobile payment adoption.

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s 2016 Consumer Payments Survey, cash’s share of overall transaction numbers decreased from 47% to 37% between 2013 and 2016. Over the same period payment cards rose from 43% to 52%, with 60% of payment card transactions now made via contactless cards.

Australia is well ahead of markets like the US when it comes to contactless adoption. Based on our 2016 Consumer Payments Insight Survey, almost 80% of contactless card users in Australia find the technology useful. Meanwhile, in the US 42% believe contactless is no better than other forms of payment.

It is encouraging for issuers in Australia to have a consumer base that appreciates the convenience of contactless over cash. Australia got many things right in its rollout of contactless cards, with a large contactless POS terminal base, a relatively high transaction value limit (at approximately $79.60), rapid rollout from issuers, as well as incentives for contactless use such as ING’s popular cashback promotion (which has since been discontinued).

However, Australian consumers are building up a payment habit that will be difficult to break with alternatives such as mobile payments. As per our aforementioned survey, less than 27% of consumers in Australia are ready to adopt mobile payments, compared to around 46% of consumers in the US.

Given the convenience contactless cards already offer, pushing mobile payments in Australia will require added-value features. Providers must consider loyalty facilities, public transport payments, and even generous incentives programs like ING’s in order to persuade consumers to shift from contactless to mobile.

By Arnie Cho, Senior Consumer Payments Analyst

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