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Finland considers doubling contactless payment threshold

Proponents say raising the contactless payment purchase limit from 25 to 50 euros would be good for both consumers and retailers.

Lähimaksulla maksamista kaupassa
Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Since 2013, Finland has a system of contactless payments in place, whereby debit or credit cards can be held close to a payment terminal for payments of 25 euros or less. It is faster and more hygienic, as there is no need to insert the card into the payment terminal and key in a PIN code.

Now several parties are lobbying to raise the 25-euro limit to 50 euros, but it is ultimately the banks and credit and debit card companies that will decide. Decisions are implemented on a country-by-country basis.

Britain made the decision in 2015 to raise the limit from 20 to 30 pounds, and France recently did the same. In Germany, contactless payment is already possible for purchases of up to 50 euros with certain cards.

"These are markets where contactless payment systems have been in use for a longer period than in Finland, and they have apparently been seen as a good thing. Customers have requested it [the raise]. They are ahead of Finland in a way," says Kirsi Klepp from Finance Finland, an advocacy group for Finland's financial sector.

Three-quarters of payment cards and terminals in Finland have been fitted with a contactless payment feature.

"It has really functioned well: consumers have adopted it quite comprehensively. The risks some people have associated with it haven't come to fruition," says Visa's company manager in Finland, Vesa Tukonen.

Banks and credit card companies decide

A decision to raise the limit would require the major credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard to reach an agreement with Finland's banks. Individual actors can't decide things, as the entire sector has to agree before the change can be made.

"We are currently negotiating with the banks about increasing the current limit. Both consumers and retailers would benefit from the change," says Mastercard Finland's Pekka Laaksonen.

Nordea and OP bank representatives say they are listening to their customers and considering the move, but Danske Bank's CEO Lari Tuovinen says he is one hundred percent behind the idea. He can't make any promises about if the amount decided on will end up being 50 euros, however.

"Contactless payment has been very popular, I'm sure the customers will be happy with this. We would prefer to proceed slowly with this, but at any rate so that customers could already do their summer shopping under a higher limit," he says.

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