“Contactless Payment Revolution” Has Just Started in Austria

When Erste Bank and Sparkassen proclaimed “a contactless payment revolution” in Austria, SMARTRAC’s PRELAM® technology played an indispensable part in it. Specially designed pre-laminates combine superior read-range with a small form factor, enabling waterproof wristbands to be used as high-performance, secure contactless payment devices.


Back in June, Austria’s Sparkassen (savings banks) and their leading institute Erste Bank introduced a waterproof wristband (BankCard Micro) and a sticker (BankCard Sticker) with payment functionalities identical to those of traditional banking cards. Both enable contactless payments of up to 25 Euros without entering a PIN code. For amounts beyond that limit, a PIN code is required.


In the Alpine state, end users already benefit from 127,000 payment terminals (50,000 NFC-enabled) in restaurants, shops and hotels – more than one-third of all POS terminals. By 2020, nearly all payment terminals will be NFC-ready. Additionally, over the next few years, Erste Bank and Sparkassen will be rolling out cash dispensers equipped with NFC functionality, which will enable contactless cash withdrawals as well. All contactless transactions comply with the same security criteria as traditional contact-based banking card transactions.


The Ideal PRELAM for Wearables

To achieve all this, Erste Bank and Sparkassen are relying on long-term partner Austria Card, which had chosen SMARTRAC as its preferred PRELAM supplier. What distinguishes SMARTRAC’s pre-laminates is their level of security, provided by Infineon’s SLE77 16-bit security controller, plus their combination of enhanced read-range and small form factor. The latter features make them particularly suitable for wearables in a wide range of applications besides contactless payment, such as Access Control and Hospitality, or Leisure & Entertainment.

For Sebastian Gallschütz, VP Product Management Secure ID & Transactions Business Division at SMARTRAC, the PRELAMs designed for Austria Card underline the company’s ability to break new ground when customers ask for it. “Special requirements demand special technical solutions. With these customized PRELAMs that are thoroughly optimized for wearables, we have proven our ability to quickly develop products that feature special characteristics tailored to our customers’ needs.”


"It was our goal to create new product options and form factors for our clients while maintaining our established quality and security standards. SMARTRAC has professionally supported us in this endeavor,” explains Dr. Christoph Paul, Head of Banking at Austria Card.

Creating the Smallest Water-resistant Debit Card in the World

Payment via wristband
Payment via wristband

SMARTRAC’s secure, 'wearable-optimized' PRELAMs are at the core of Austria Card’s BankCard Micro, which is embedded in a rubber wristband. Specifically designed for Erste Bank, BankCard Micro is the smallest water-resistant debit card in the world, according to Austria Card, enabling payments 'with a wave of the wrist'. The BankCard Micro wristband is ideal for usage in sports or at events and festivals - no need to carry a wallet with you any longer. A very similar version of the PRELAM is also used in the BankCard Sticker, which can be applied to smartphones, notepads or key fobs, for example.

“Perfect Complements to our Mobile Payment Portfolio”

BankCard Micro

Wolfgang Zeiner, Cards Product Manager at Erste Bank, is very satisfied with the solution Austria Card has created using SMARTRAC’s customised PRELAMs. "The contactless sticker and the BankCard Micro with wristband are the perfect complements to our mobile payment portfolio. We thank our long-standing partner Austria Card, which has supported us professionally throughout the entire NFC technology evolution, and managed to design solutions for our specific needs."

About Austria Card


Austria Card is the payment partner of choice for government, enterprise, retail, and public transport organizations in need of the most sophisticated and secure smart cards and digital security solutions. The company designs, produces and personalizes payment cards, ID cards, access/transport-related cards, as well as loyalty cards, and offers innovative mobile payment solutions as a certified, trusted service management provider.


Picture Copyright: Erste Group Bank AG