Contactless card market in Turkey

As a Turkish professional and being already spent 14 years in card business in Turkey, I’d like to summarize the current situation of contactless card market in Turkey.

Turkey has a highly active card business in terms of figures and technology. It is in the top 3 countries in Europe according to Visa EU and MasterCard Europe. Detailed figures of Turkish market is accessible through BKM’s web site.

EMV migration started in Turkey in 1999 and it’s one of the most mature countries in terms of EMV compatible POS/ATM terminals and cards. (Excluding debit cards which are all online PIN based)

So, under these circumstances, the next thing for Turkey was of course contactless business. Almost all major banks already have contactless cards and POS terminals, most of the other banks have projects or plans for contactless.

Contactless reader penetration is also quite impressive. For example, when you go for a coffee in a Starbucks, you will see a contactless card reader attached to the POS terminal. If your bill is less than 35 TL (20 EUR) you have the chance to pay it via your contactless credit card without PIN or signature. Total transaction lasts no more than 30 seconds.

Unlike many other countries, banks own the POS terminals, so the migration was smooth. Current infrastructure did not change, only the external contactless readers have been deployed. OTI and Verifone (Vivotech) covers almost all the market, but Sagem (now Ingenico) has built in contactless readers as well.

Gemalto is the major player in the card vendor market. AustriaCard, E-Kart (G&D) and Oberthur are the followers.

There are a few card personalization offices in Turkey. Plastkart is the exclusive partner of Gemalto, Provus and Bilesim are the other players. Oberthur is also working on its own personalization bureau.

There are also NFC pilot projects from Turkcell with Garanti Bank and Akbank. Turkish Interbank Card Association (BKM) is working on handling the TSM role for NFC.

I think this is a general outline of Turkish contactless card market. There’s whole another story for transportation market, which I’ll cover in another post.

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