The UK came a step closer to becoming a cashless society today with the launch of a new payment system by MasterCard.
The group’s contactless payment system MasterCard PayPass enables people to buy things costing less than £10 simply by touching their card against a reader.
High street banks HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have already signed up to use the ‘Tap & Go’ technology, along with a number of major retailers including McDonalds, Eat, Coffee Republic and Books Etc.
The system is being launched in London in the City and Canary Wharf today, before being rolled out across the whole capital this month, followed by the rest of the UK next year.
It is estimated that five million contactless payment cards will have been 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.
To mark the launch in London, MasterCard has covered the Millennium Bridge with giant images of notes and coins.
It is also collecting donations from people using the bridge for the Coin Street charity, which supports community projects in the South Bank.
Recent research carried out by MasterCard found that 53% of consumers were enthusiastic about contactless payments, claiming it would be a more convenient way to pay for things.
About 38% of people said they thought they would use cash less in five years’ time, while 16% of people said they often did not make everyday purchases such as newspapers, sweets or cigarettes because they did not have change or did not want to break a note.
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.
‘Led by Londoners using MasterCard PayPass or Maestro PayPass cards from this month, we believe UK consumers will also welcome the arrival of a new way to pay.’
Meanwhile, Barclaycard One Pulse, which combines an Oyster card, Barclaycard and contactless payment card into one piece of plastic, said more than 3,800 people had pre-registered for one of the cards ahead of its launch in London this autumn.
More than 1,000 retailers in the capital have also said they will install the technology to accept payment by the cards.
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