There is only a status-quo until there comes change, and COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the status-quo of the entire world.
The New Status-quo and Payment
This new status-quo has ensured a double-digit growth of for the first time, as social distancing steers Scandinavian consumers away from chip and PIN usage.
During the outbreak of the pandemic, Denmark and Norway imposed strict COVID-19 social distancing measures. During the same time, contactless payments in the region increased by an unprecedented 12 percentage points, according to transaction data released today from European payments industry leader, Nets.
Compared to the first 16 weeks of 2019, contactless usage as a proportion of all card transactions performed in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, increased by 5 percentage points from 40 percent to 45 percent.
In stark contrast, the same period in 2020 saw contactless volumes increase at more than twice this rate, growing by 12 percentage points from 57 percent to 69 percent.
“The convenience of ‘tap and go’ contactless payments have always been popular in the Nordics, but we have never seen adoption rates increase like this,” commented Robert Hoffmann, Head of Merchant Services at Nets.
“Reducing the spread of Covid-19 is rightly at the forefront of all our minds, so I’m pleased to report that Nordic consumers are responding to World Health Organisation recommendations and the requests of merchants, by opting to use contactless wherever possible,” Hoffmann added.
Widely renowned for using the least cash in the world, the Nordic countries have already consistently demonstrated one of the highest contactless adoption rates in the world.
From March up until now, a lockdown has been in place across Denmark and Norway. Thus increases in adoption were notably acute.
Denmark, which already displays the highest levels of contactless utilisation, rose from 80.8 percent in mid-March to 83.4 percent in the end of April.
Norway demonstrated a dramatic increase of 13.7 percentage points over the same period, from 45.6 percent to 59.3 percent.
And Sweden rose from 47.4 percent to 50.2 percent, despite the country not taking similar lockdown measures to Denmark and Norway.
Scandinavia Increases the Transaction Limit
To further facilitate adoption, Norway has recently increased the transaction limit to pay with contactless without inputting a PIN code from NOK 400 to 500, while Sweden doubled the amount from SEK 200 to 400 in mid-April this year.
In Denmark, the limit has been DKK 350 for over two years.
The contactless limit set by EU law is EUR 50.
However, contactless payments through mobile devices, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, work on all payment terminals with contactless functionality and have no transaction limit, as the purchase is approved by the mobile.
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