Digital Turkey: the growth of contactless payments

Last updated: 18 December 2019

In the final installment of our series on Digital Turkey, we’ll take a look at the evolution of contactless cards in Turkey. As our previous articles have shown, Turkey is years ahead of many of its European neighbors when it comes to the adoption of numerous technologies, and contactless is no exception.

Turkey has the third highest level of credit card adoption in Europe, and over the past decade, its number of credit card holders has more than tripled, to 45 million. Turkish banks have taken an innovative approach towards what bank cards can do and this has undoubtedly contributed to the rapid rates of adoption among Turkey’s young and digitally-savvy population. Contactless payment technology is one of the most significant advances in this area in recent years.

Turkey was the second country in Europe to be equipped with contactless terminals, and there are now currently around 40,000 locations where consumers can make low-value purchases, such as stores, ferry terminals and parking lots. Most ATMs have also been fitted with contactless readers, whilst every branch of Starbucks now has contactless point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Almost six million contactless cards have been deployed in Turkey to date, with Bank Asya and Garanti Bank leading the way.

But why is Turkey so keen to adopt contactless? Well, for merchants, contactless payments mean shorter lines in stores, higher transaction volumes and less cash to handle. A contactless transaction takes 0.5 seconds, compared to around 12 seconds for a contact payment. And for banks, the ease and convenience offers an extra incentive to customers to sign up for their services.

Ultimately, by implementing contactless technology, banks are aiming to replace cash in all areas of daily life. And although contactless cards have so far led the charge, near-field communication (NFC) technology is fast becoming another option. Judging by its present rate of progress, Turkey must be considered among the front-runners to become the world’s first cash-free state.