How Sweden and ABBA are embracing NFC

Sweden, ABBA and NFC payments

Recently we explained how contactless payments were about to take Eurovision 2016 by storm. Visitors to the Eurovision Village in Stockholm could get Visa and Gemalto’s NFC-enabled wristbands, allowing them to make payments seamlessly inside and outside the arena. While Sweden for once didn’t win the contest, (instead Ukraine was the “Winner (that) Takes It All”) the NFC wristband project was a resounding success – to such an extent that by the end of the event, there weren’t any left!

Watch our testimonial video below for insights into Visa Europe’s successful launch of the contactless wristband at Eurovision. Powered by the Gemalto Allynis Smart Event platform, the wristband works through an embedded NFC chip, allowing the user to make an instant transaction by simply holding the wearable beside a merchant’s NFC reader.

The reasons for NFC’s increasing popularity are manifold; it’s simple, faster and convenient, a clear advantage for large events hosting thousands of attendees. It’s not just Eurovision deploying the Smart Event platform – rugby team, Saracens, has also used the technology to enhance the fan experience. All the consumer has to do is visit a website, enter a code and then upload funds to the wristband. The buying process – a simple tap against a reader – is much faster than a traditional card or cash transaction, meaning that long, slow queues could be rendered a thing of the past. That’s why we expecting more event organizers to Take a Chance on NFC, especially after demand was so high in the Eurovision village that the organizers actually ran out of wristbands!

In Sweden, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about NFC and the cashless society. Swedes are paying by card three times more often than the rest of Europe, while 65% are willing to use cards for amounts below 10 SEK (€1) – and, promisingly, the figure’s even higher for young people (85%). These statistics demonstrate that Swedes are relying less and less on cash, meaning they’re likely to be more amenable to technologically advanced payment solutions. Furthermore, a recent study indicated that nine out of ten Swedes have abandoned a payment at some point due to long queues, while seven out of ten have actually walked out of a store due to the problem. Clearly, when it comes to payments, Swedes Have A Dream – and that’s faster, more convenient solutions.

Certainly, one famous Swede is keen on the idea of a cashless society, and that’s ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus, who’s on a crusade to make Sweden cashless. He’s instructed the famous ABBA Museum in Stockholm to only accept card and NFC payments, meaning that visitors will enjoy a seamless payment experience. It’s not just famous tourist attractions; overall, the number of Swedish retail transactions made using cash has decreased by around 20% since 2014.

When it comes to making a transaction speedier, enhancing user convenience and making big events like Eurovision and sports matches run more efficiently, it’s clear that NFC is the Name of the Game.

We’re not surprised to see countries like Sweden moving towards technologically advanced payment solutions. What’s your take on the cashless society? Let us know by tweeting to us at @Gemalto, or by posting a comment below.

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