A Javelin Strategy & Research study commissioned by the Smart Card Alliance shows that nine percent of the U.S. population now has a contactless credit or debit card.

The figures show that 35 million contactless cards were in circulation in 2007, almost doubling the 2006 number of 19 million (which was a figure from a separate study by Jupiter Research, recently acquired by Forrester Research).

The Javelin study also showed a growing frequency of use, with 22 percent of contactless cardholders or fob users utilizing the devices more than six times a month. Another encouraging aspect for contactless providers was a finding showing that more cashiers (85 percent) knew how to accept a contactless payment—correcting a long-standing problem with encouraging consumers to use their devices.

Awareness of contactless has also grown, from 15 percent in 2006 to 25 percent last year. “Contactless payment acceptance at merchants is taking off much faster than PIN debit did,” said John Suchanec, svp of Payment Research and Innovations at Bank of America.  “Contactless acceptance is already growing at a rate that it took seven years to achieve with PIN debit.  Mobile will accelerate the curve.”

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