With major U.S. mobile service providers rolling out Isis (contactless payment using a cell phone) and Google Wallet tap and pay gaining popularity, I wonder if these payments are compatible with European contactless payment terminals?

For example: I can see that the London Tube website has the same symbol for contactless payment as Isis (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/19976.aspx and https://www.paywithisis.com/help.html) but does it mean it will actually work or is it just a generic symbol for contactless payments?

Some people speculate that with slow adoption of chip-and-pin cards in the U.S., the contactless payments will be the next thing. So I really hope to be able to use it in any country.


1 Answer 1


The Contactless card is more a generic terminology. It uses NFC [Near Field Communication], essentially meaning some kind of RFID chip that can send out signal when close to a power source. The standards are still evolving, Master & Visa have agreed on a broad level of specs and most of these cards are expected to be compatiable. The contactless credit/debit cards are mostly used for small value transactions.

The mobile contactless card is still evolving, there are still difference on whether this should replace all types of cards ... the readers for all these are currently different. So a merchant or a service provider has to install multiple card reading machines ... or some manufacturer needs to come out with a device that multiple technologies. Similar to current Credit Card Terminals, they are swipe enabled at the same time also chip & PIN enabled.

Over the next few years, the technology behind all this will settle down and standards agreed. It would only be then that the one can gain the same inter-operability similar to normal credit cards.

  • So Isis and Google Wallet will not work abroad? With the world switching to chip and pin and the U.S. staying on magnetic strip there is not much inter-operability right now.
    – Vitalik
    Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 17:24
  • @Vitalik: Today NO. Sometime in future YES. When in future? My guess atleast a year or more. In most European countries, Although the POS support both Magnetic strip & Chip, most merchants prefer Chip as they have better fraud protection offered by Bank and hence refuse Magnetic strip. But large shops would still support Magnetic strip
    – Dheer
    Commented Nov 29, 2013 at 2:42

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