More Card Users Switch to Tap & Go

By: Andrew Regan

Retailers are finding that having to stock tills with enough change to do business is becoming more expensive, so in conjunction with the banks they have come up for a cashless solution for those smaller transactions. Customers will now be able to charge transactions of less than ?10 to debit and credit cards simply by touching their card on an electronic terminal rather than having to go through a time-consuming chip and pin transaction. This is proving very popular for cardholders who will no longer have to fumble for change for those smaller value transactions.

This 'tap-and-go' technology has been developed with the cooperation of both VISA and Mastercard, who have ensured that their cards will work on terminals throughout the world. But, existing credit and debit cards cannot utilise this revolutionary technology, as only newly issued cards will be able to perform these transactions. It is up to the banks to produce the cards and persuade or inform their customers to use them.

The first to issue cards that can be used in 'tap and go' technology were Barclaycard, with their 'OnePulse' product. As well as 'tap-and-go' this credit card also incorporates the Oyster Card technology which allows card-holders to pay for tube and bus fares on the London Underground. Next from Barclaycard will be their debit card equivalent, and the Royal Bank of Scotland are hot on their heels., while other credit card deals involving the use of the new technology are expected to appear in the marketplace shortly.

Despite being new to the UK, 'tap-and-go' technology already operates in 19 other countries, including the USA, where there are 16 million machines already in use. The benefits of paying this way are obvious for both retailers and customers. Transactions are quicker and this method of payment is especially useful where correct change would normally be required such as car parking fees, and in vending machines. Oliver Steeley of Mastercard is an advocate of the scheme and the benefits it brings; "This is about choice and convenience for customers, especially in places when time is tight, such as the sandwich shop at lunchtime," said the strategy director.

The first cards are being issued to customers who live in or travel through central London, where retailers such as Coffee Republic and McDonalds are installing the new terminals. If the trials in the Capital go to plan almost five million UK credit cards - compatible with 'tap-and-go' technology - are expected to be issued before the end of 2008; something else to bear in mind for those who compare credit cards, and the benefits that each offer.

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