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Barcelona will become the first European city with the contactless payment system installed

CaixaBank and Visa Europe will begin installing the system enabling “contactless payments” to be made throughout Barcelona. The system consists of paying for goods valued at less than €20 by passing a special credit card in front of a sensor, with no need of actually introducing the card anywhere or typing any code. The system will become fully operational to coincide with the Mobile World Congress, which starts on February 27th. Barcelona will be the first city in Europe where the contactless payment method can be used, ahead of London, which aims to have it ready for the Olympics this summer.


13 January 2012 01:17 AM



Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona was named the Mobile World Capital last summer, as it will host the most important annual meeting of the entire mobile phone industry, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) until 2018. Coinciding with this year\u2019s MWC, for the first time in a large European city, clients of Barcelona shops, restaurants or even ATMs will be able to withdraw money or make purchases smaller than \u20AC20 almost instantly and with no need to carry any money with the new \u201Ccontactless payment\u201D method. The system works just like a regular credit card, but is easier and there\u2019s no need for signatures or codes. The client has to briefly pass a special credit card in front of a sensor and the payment is made. For payments higher than \u20AC20, a PIN code will be requested. The system will be implemented in Barcelona by the Catalan financial entity CaixaBank, the private bank owned by La Caixa, and VISA Europe. In the next two months, CaixaBank will issue one million contactless cards, will adapt 500 ATMs, as the system also enables cash withdrawal, and will distribute 15,000 new dataphones in shops, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. It will also be available for public transportation and taxis. Currently there are already 3,000 shops in Barcelona that accept this payment system. Antoni Massanell, CaixaBank\u2019s Director General, said that the new payment method would be \u201Cquicker and simpler\u201D. Barcelona will be the first large city in Europe, ahead of London, which foresees to have it ready this summer for the Olympics.

After having evaluated the pilot tests in the Balearic Islands and in the Catalan coastal town of Sitges, located less than 40 kilometres south of Barcelona, the system arrives in Barcelona. This technology is particularly useful for \u201Cmicropayments\u201D, payments below \u20AC20. According to VISA, these operations represent around \u20AC80 billion each year throughout Spain.

At the moment, only one neighbourhood in Barcelona already has all its CaixaBank adapted to the new system, Sants. In the next two months, one million contactless cards will have been issued and 500 ATMs replaced by others having the new system \u2013which will be spherical. To encourage shopkeepers to change their dataphone, CaixaBank will offer them \u201Cspecific conditions\u201D, based on an inferior bank commission. The shops with the new payment system will have a specific sticker in their entrances. It will be formed by four stripes forming a wave. Taxis will also start accepting this payment method in the coming months.

Coinciding with the Mobile World Congress

The Mobile World Congress, at the end of February, will be the moment the new technology will start being fully operative. Barcelona councillor for Trade, Consumption and Market, Raimond Blasi, believes that contactless payments will \u201Creduce the client\u2019s waiting time, the cash flow and errors in its manipulation\u201D. Blasi stated that in a few months, the contactless payment is expected to be use in museums, municipal sports facilities and public transportation.

Barcelona has been chosen not only for the MWC but also because 24.4% of all Spain\u2019s sales paid by credit card are made in the Catalan capital, according to Jordi Nicolau, CaixaBank\u2019s Deputy Territorial Director for Barcelona. Spain\u2019s largest retail shops are starting to adapt to the new technology, according to Luís Garcia Cristóbal, VISA General Director for Spain and Portugal. However, he declined to say which ones, as \u201Cthey will communicate it immediately\u201D.


  • A CaixaBank employee shows how the new payment method works (by T. Parada)

  • A CaixaBank employee shows how the new payment method works (by T. Parada)