Believe it or not, Slovakia is currently Europe's most established mobile payments market, at least according to Visa. In fact, the payments titan says the former Eastern Bloc member is zooming past the UK when it comes to contactless payments tech, with Visa listing it as its "hero market".
While I was at first sceptical about this claim, Visa had some pretty solid data to back it up, pegging Slovakia as responsible for one million contactless payments per month and being one of a select few countries where over half of all Visa cards are NFC enabled – to be exact, Visa says 60 percent of Slovakian cards are contactless. Even better, 36 percent of the country's businesses – of all sizes – accept contactless payments, and an impressive one in 10 transactions in Slovakia are contactless.
While this sounds small it's important to note Slovakia is too, with a population of 5.4 million, which makes the stats fairly impressive especially when taken in a global context: Visa currently claims there are 59 million contactless cards in the world. So when I got the chance to fly to Slovakia to try and survive a few days using just a Samsung Galaxy S3 loaded with O2 Wallet, I couldn't resist.
Having survived the experience, I have to say I'm really impressed with the tech and am won over by Visa's mobile push. Going through Bratislava in Slovakia, my experience suggested the 36 percent contactless terminals figure is a conservative one, with every business – including a local coffee house and beer hall – accepting my mobile payment.
As a result, despite my initial hesitation, I've found myself believing Visa's claim that by 2020 over half of all payments will be mobile. I'm even looking forward to it. Luckily for me, Britain's also well on its way to becoming a mobile payments hub, with Visa having inked lucrative deals with numerous UK services, such as Transport for London (TfL), which has apparently taken £2m in contactless payments since launching the service just months ago. This – combined with the positive feedback Visa got when it demonstrated its PayWave service at the London 2012 Olympic Games – means there has never been a better time for a UK NFC revolution.
And as far as I can tell, the only thing hampering mobile payments in the UK isn't a lack of customer interest, but a lack of handsets compliant with Visa's payment certification standards, with key players like Apple still refusing to add NFC support to its popular iPhone handset. Still with Samsung now running in partnership with Visa, this will hopefully change soon and the UK will catch up with Slovakia in its road to mainstream mobile payment adoption.
Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago