Spar, Mace, XL to accept contactless card payments


5 Apr 2012

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Conor Langford (left), vice-president Ireland, Visa Europe, and Willie O'Byrne, MD, BWG Foods

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BWG Foods, which owns retail businesses such as Spar, Eurospar, Mace and XL, is partnering with Visa Europe to begin accepting payments from NFC-enabled contactless cards from the end of April.

The company aims to let the majority of its 900 stores accept contactless payments across Ireland by the end of 2012.

This will allow customers who shop in Spar, Eurospar, Mace and XL stores to quickly pay for items costing up to €15 with contactless cards. BWG Foods hopes this will offer faster transaction times, reduced queues and increased customer satisfaction.

Last year, Bank of Ireland launched Visa contactless debit cards, which let customers pay for goods costing €15 and less by holding the card over the reader. It utilises near field communication (NFC) technology to make the transaction in less than a second.

It’s subject to the same level of consumer protection as with all other Visa cards and once the card is used a certain number of times or above a particular value, customers will be prompted to input a PIN to complete their purchase.

"The adoption of this technology across our retail estate, spanning approximately 900 stores in Ireland, will provide an additional layer of convenience for our 1m daily shoppers who will benefit directly from reduced queues and faster throughput at no extra cost,” said Willie O’Byrne, BWG Foods managing director.

“We are constantly evolving our offer and service to customers and we see this as the next evolution of the shopping experience in an increasingly cashless society. We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of this service in such a significant way,” he said.

NFC payments

These NFC debit cards aim reduce to the amount of cash payments made in Ireland. Seventy per cent of all transactions in Ireland are still made using cash, according to a National Irish Bank survey. The country is also one of the highest users of cheques.

NFC technology also allows customers to pay for goods using their mobile phones, which is growing in popularity across numerous regions across the globe. Conor Langford, vice-president in Ireland of Visa Europe, believes this marks the first steps towards mobile payments in Ireland.

“The increase in contactless acceptance, led by organisations like BWG, has set the scene for a major change in the way we pay in Ireland,” said Langford.

“The growing contactless infrastructure across Ireland also paves the way for the introduction of mobile payments in the years to come. We’re excited to be working with innovative partners like BWG to make the future of payments a reality,” he said.