Contactless Intelligence shortlisted the top 11 countries that made the contactless headlines during 2011.
Based on discussions with industry insiders as well as a review of press releases and blogs last year, it awarded each one points for the following categories (for 2011 only):
- Number of POS terminals deployed
- Type of contactless devices deployed
- Number of contactless devices deployed
- Number of new applications announced
- Number of MNO’s active in contactless
Finally, it applied a weighting based on the level of backing given to contactless in 2011. This was designed to reward those countries that had either made a strong nationwide business-led push towards rolling out contactless (multiplying the total score from the previous five categories by 1.5) or a strong government/public sector-led drive towards adoption of the technology (multiplying the total score from the previous five categories by 2).
All scores were based on activities in 2011 and did not take into account the contactless infrastructure already in place prior to 1st January, 2011.
Before the weighting was applied for country-level commitment to contactless, the top five countries were China, the US, Japan, South Korea and Poland. The top four were no surprise; as this is a numbers game, the sheer size of China and the US always ensures that anything they do involves big numbers, while Japan and South Korea have a long history of embracing technological innovation, particularly in the world of contactless. But Poland’s top five ranking was an interesting development and revealed the strong advances it made in 2011 from a very low base.
These are the first scores after the 5 basic criteria were applied;
- CHINA 69
- USA 56
- JAPAN 55
- SOUTH KOREA 51
- POLAND 48
- UNITED KINGDOM 47
- FRANCE 47
- SINGAPORE 44
- TURKEY 36
- SPAIN 33
- RUSSIA 24
Once the weighting was included, there was a marked change in the results with France, the UK, the US, Japan and South Korea claiming the top five spots. France and the UK came top thanks to spirited efforts by both the public and the private sectors that have seen these countries developing their contactless infrastructure outside their capitals.
- FRANCE 94
- UNITED KINGDOM 94
- USA 84
- JAPAN 83
- SOUTH KOREA 77
- POLAND 72
- CHINA 69
- TURKEY 54
- SPAIN 50
- SINGAPORE 44
- RUSSIA 24
The US – whose government has on occasion hindered rather than helped contactless deployment – enjoyed a good business-led push, which enabled it to maintain a spot in the top five. Japan and South Korea also kept their leading positions, thanks to a business-led promotion of contactless both domestically and overseas.
What really helped the UK to elbow its way past major rivals was its role as the host of the 2012 Olympics. This has had a big effect on getting the basics in place ready for a contactless Games. Public transport operator Transport for London (TfL) also played a major role in helping to create the contactless habit. However, whether the UK can retain its high ranking in future years will become clear only after the Olympics has ended and we see how committed public transport operators and businesses are to promoting contactless as the main way to pay for goods and services.
France’s pole position is no surprise given that there has long been strong support for the technology, both from industry organizations and a government keen to help French firms build market share. With a new government due to be voted in later this year and austerity measures kicking in, it will be interesting to see whether – and how – the country’s commitment changes in 2012. It was these reasons that the judges finally awarded the number 1 position for the 2011-12 Country League to France.