Poland welcomes contactless technology but Warsaw stands as beacon

Warsaw Downtown skyline

Downtown Warsaw - Image via Wikipedia

Unlike other European countries that have focussed their contactless deployment efforts on specific cities, the Polish approach to NFC and contactless rollout has been more extensive, with schemes being launched nationwide. That said, the capital Warsaw still shines  as beacon for contactless in the country.

The city’s residents can use contactless cards for bus, tramway and metro rides as well as for street parking, thanks to a scheme introduced by its public transport department. The scheme has been used as a springboard for the deployment of the technology on transport networks in other Polish cities such as Gdynia, Plock and Rybnik.

Educational establishments across Poland, including institutions in Warsaw, are issuing contactless eID cards to students. Large-scale deployment of student eID cards began in the country in 2007 and more than 115 universities and high schools now issue them, with 1.1 million people using them daily for access to campus facilities, dormitories, workshops and labs. The cards can also be used on public transport and as a digital wallet. An estimated 300 universities are queuing up to join the program and issue the eID cards.

MasterCard and Visa have both made a considerable investment in contactless throughout Poland, and their efforts in the capital and beyond have helped ensure the infrastructure is in place to enable the rollout of some of the latest projects. This investment includes an estimated 20,000 contactless POS terminals capable of accepting Visa and MasterCard’s contactless applications which should be up and running by the end of the year. And, if that isn’t enough to show that Poland means business when it comes to the technology, some of the stats coming from the banks are also pretty impressive. For example, the country’s third-largest bank, Bank Zachodni, has issued about 180,000 EMV cards supporting Visa payWave and 54,000 with MasterCard PayPass. PKO Bank Polski is adding payWave to its more than 6 million Visa debit cards. And Polbank EFG, Bank Zachodni and ING have launched passive PayPass stickers.

The country’s number one mobile operator, Polkomtel, is launching an NFC mobile payment project involving more than 500 users in Warsaw as well as the cities of Wroclaw and Poznan. The project – billed as a soft launch – will enable customers of Polkomtel and Bank Zachodni to make payments using payWave. The scheme, which uses Samsung handsets, is also likely to include transport ticketing, coupons and loyalty applications. The technology can be used in around 4,000 locations including McDonald’s, Coffee Heaven, Matras bookstore, Shell fuel stations and media retailer Empik.

Cell phone operator PTC and internet bank Inteligo launched a PayPass trial based on Samsung NFC handsets earlier this year throughout the country. The 100 users involved in the four-month scheme can use their handsets anywhere PayPass is accepted, including McDonald’s, Żabka convenience stores and Sferis computer outlets.

This pilot follows a 2009 scheme that PTC launched with PayPass and Polbank EFG using passive contactless stickers.

Click here for the League Table on Warsaw

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  1. Poland welcomes contactless technology but Warsaw stands as beacon « Near Field Communications - November 12, 2010

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