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'Tap and go' credit cards launched

News.com.au | September 4, 2007

THE UK moved a step closer to becoming a cashless society today with the launch of a system that enables people to buy things by simply touching their credit card against a reader.

The contactless payment system, MasterCard PayPass, can be used for purchases of less than £10 ($A24).

HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have already signed up to use the "Tap & Go" technology, along with a number of major retailers including McDonald's, the British Press Association reported.

The system was launched in London's City and Canary Wharf today and will be rolled out across the capital this month and the rest of the UK next year.

It is estimated that five million contactless payment cards will be issued by banks to replace existing credit and debit cards by the end of next year, and these will be accepted by 100,000 retailers.

John Bushby, general manager of MasterCard Northern Europe, said: "Consumers and retailers in other parts of Europe, the US and Asia are already embracing the ease and safety of contactless payments in retail environments where speed is essential."

Barclaycard One Pulse, which combines a number of card functions in one, said more than 3800 people had registered for one of the cards ahead of their launch later this year.

More than 1000 London retailers have also said they will install the technology to accept payment by the cards.

The system is similar to one to be trialled in Australia next year in which customers can pay with the wave of a mobile phone with a built-in credit card.

About 250 Telstra and NAB customers will be supplied with a mobile phone embedded with contactless technology, with a Visa application loaded on to the SIM card.

They will be able to make a payment by simply waving their mobile over a merchant's contactless reader.

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