Major credit card payments provider Visa and local Catalan bank La Caixa have partnered to launch Europe’s first citywide contactless payment system in Barcelona. More here.
Whilst technological developments and day-to-day comfort is always welcome, we at “Robbed in Barcelona” are a little concerned by the implications for those who have just had their bag or wallets robbed. We have 16,500 reported robberies a month here.
The new contactless payment system – also known as “tap-and-go” – means that the card need only be flashed in front of a terminal for purchases of up to €20, and there is no need for signature, pin or identity confirmation.
More than a million cards will be distributed to locals by Visa and La Caixa by the end of February 2012.
Where a stolen credit card previously may or may not have had a value for the criminal, depending on their own particular speciality, this new contactless payment system gives each credit card a value of up to €20 and perhaps more depending on how many times the criminal is willing to use it.
Consider the scenario where a wallet has been stolen with two credit cards inside. The thief takes the cards to any one of 15,000 businesses in Barcelona which will use the new system. They make a purchase worth €19. They do it again, same card. They take out a second card, make a purchase. Then the second card is used once again. Same shop or different shops. Two cards, four purchases, €76 in value, one sorry victim. Even if the criminal is caught on camera they’ll be back on the street a few hours later to do it again, see here.
Barcelona was selected as a starting point because La Caixa hopes to showcase the technology during next month’s Mobile World Congress, which for us here at “Robbed in Barcelona” has its own special significance.