Contactless payments are picking up speed in the Nordics because of COVID-19

The Nordics are already at the forefront of cashless payment solutions. Now social distancing rules have fuelled the growth of contactless payment by 12 percentage points in the region in the first four months of 2020, according to payments company Nets.

In the first 16 weeks of 2019, contactless usage, as a proportion of all card transactions performed in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, increased by five percentage points from 40% to 45%. 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% to 69%.

The growth was particularly prominent between the 11th and the 16th week of the year. During that time the usage of contactless payments skyrocketed from 80.8% in week 11 to 83.4% in Denmark, from 45.6% to 59.3% in Norway, and from 47.4% to 50.2% in Sweden. In Finland contactless payment adoption, as a proportion of all card payments, is 63.7%.

“The convenience of ‘tap and go’ contactless payments has always been popular in the Nordics, but we have never seen adoption rates increase like this,” comments ​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 Organization recommendations and the requests of merchants, by opting to use contactless wherever possible.”

The news comes after FinTech companies in the Nordics raised $321.6m in the first quarter of 2020, according to FinTech Global’s research. The region has recorded strong growth in investment between 2016 and 2019 as investors backed innovative startups in the region developing digital solutions for established financial services firms. Total funding grew at a CAGR of 45% from $214.3m to nearly $1bn at the end of last year.

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