The 10th of February was when I started the “30 card-less days challenge”, wherein I under no circumstance could pay for goods or services using a physical card issued by banks like DNB, or fintechs like Revolut. Instead, I would have to rely on my iPhone, Apple Watch, and NFC technology to ensure I could continue living a normal life.
I was never socialised into cash
What inspired me to begin this challenge was my involvement in rolling out the contactless scheme at Rema 1000. With the ability to buy the most essential thing in the world (food) without a plastic card, I felt inclined to test a mobile payment-only life.
Wandering about as a Norwegian at the sparkling age of 24;
"I can honestly say that I have not willingly used cash since I turned 13 years old back in 2008 when I got my first bank issued Visa card from Toten Sparebank.”
My case is not unique; Norway is known to be early adopters of new payment options, and this report from Forbrukerrådet (P33) demonstrates how only 2.7% of the Norwegian population use cash as their payment instrument - which equates to 140,395 people, or a little more than the current population of Stavanger Municipality. Meanwhile, a report from Sparebank1 Gruppen from 2016 (P15) states that 81% of Norwegians prefer debit/credit cards over any other instrument.
But what about mobile payments; that’s why we’re here after all? 2020 is the year of contactless payments in Norway. With more than 85%+ of all stores having activated contactless, you’d expect the 30 day challenge to go as smooth as a warm knife through Bremykt.
According to Norges Bank Memo Kunderetta betalingsformidling 2018 (P7 note 7), we can’t differentiate between mobile and contactless card payments as of now. Generally though, only 13 mill (4.5%) of the 2116 mill transactions on physical terminals are contactless, and those numbers are expected to grow.
Norwegian card issuers and Apple Pay
The fact that I own Apple devices meant that I need ApplePay - which in turn meant that none of my card issuers like DNB, Norwegian Airline Bank, or Toten Sparebank could be of any use.
“As a reward point hunter I knew I had to find a way to get my Norwegian Airline Bank card onto ApplePay.”
Conveniently enough, a colleague shared some news about Curve finally supporting ApplePay, meaning that I could use my originally-not-ApplePay-supported-cards after all. So I got Curve and proceeded living my normal life.
Where I shopped
Grocery stores have all enabled contactless payments, and I haven’t received any declined payments from Rema, Matkroken, and Meny so far. As a loyal Rema 1000 shopper, I am of course an Æ member and my only wish for the future is that Æ would be registered when tapping my phone/watch just like it does when you tap your card. The picture below is me paying with my AppleWatch at Meny.
The vast majority of gas stations do not support contactless payment by the pumps except for a few selected ones by UnoX if we are to believe their incredible marketing campaign. I refuel at my local YX who have, as you see in the picture below, a yellow button by the pump that allows you to start fueling and pay inside afterwards. Not optimal, since some stations ask you to place a valuable belonging behind the counter while fuelling, but it works.
Bars, fashion retailers, electronics stores all cater to mobile payments, but as illustrated by the title teases with - it was it was while i sought to be a loving husband I met my demise.
A loving husband’s downfall
It was the gloomy afternoon of Tuesday February 25th it happened. At precisely 16:21 during my rush to make my train departing at 16:24 I quickly stopped by Mestergrønn at Oslo Central Station to buy flowers for my wife. Today was our 1 month wedding anniversary and this was my last opportunity to get her flowers before she picked me up at the train station. The problem was, Mester Grønn´s bank terminal said, "We don´t take contactless. Use chip and PIN." And so there I stood, hesitant, broodingly assessing my impending decision.
“At 16:22:45 I pulled out my plastic, inserted it, and typed a PIN code I had nearly forgotten.”
For what felt like a century, the chip payment was finally completed (contactless is almost 3x faster) [internal source], and I ran to my train and quickly saw the Barcode vanish to my right.
WHY do we need plastic to never use it again?
The emotional rollercoaster of inserting my chip had me realize the agonizing fact that most banks and fintechs require you to register their plastic card before you're allowed to never use them again.
Okay, I admit I might have been a little dramatic with the title; I am not put at a disadvantage, but I was sad I had to break my 25 day streak... even for my wife.
Bonus-information; paying using your phone or watch is not only faster, but reduces the chance of spreading the Coronavirus (thanks Rema for letting us know).
Will you enter the 30 card-less days challenge? If so, share your experience with us!
The below is a Norwegian discussion between the author and Business Advisor Sigurd Høystad about where we are today with mobile payments, and where we hope to be in the near future.