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Tap-and-Go Payments on the Rise in UK

Within the next few weeks, the first mobile phones that allow consumers to tap-and-go will go on sale in England.
May 3, 2011

LONDON �" Mobile payments in the UK �" those that bypass using credit or debit cards and instead rely on tapping a card or smartphone to a specialized receptor pad �" are on the rise in London, with more than 50,000 payment terminals in shops, Mail Online reports.

The contactless payment employs near field communication that allows money to be debited directly from a consumer��s bank account. The technology is slowly gaining a footing with retailers, though it is far from ubiquitous.

"It has been a bit of a chicken and egg thing. We have not been sure about issuing cards until we know there are terminals out there for customers to use," said Jatin Patel, director of accounts at Lloyds TSB. "Likewise, retailers have been unsure there are enough cards to justify their investment in fitting terminals and training staff. But the momentum has been building up."

Tesco, Co-op and McDonald��s have recently announced they will be installing contactless payment terminals, while budget retailer Wilkinson recently introduced it in 25 stores. Within the next few weeks, the first mobile phones that allow consumers to tap-and-go will also go on sale.

To date, Barclays has issued the majority of England��s 11.6 million contactless cards, while NatWest has issued about 100,000.

Tap-and-go is currently available for payments up to �15 ($25.02 U.S.). For higher-value transactions, customers must enter a PIN number.

Banks are transitioning to mobile phone payments instead of a card to trigger tap-and-go payments, as younger people especially are less likely to forget their mobile phone than their wallet.

Orange will begin selling the country��s first tap-and-go smartphones this summer, working with Barclaycard to implement the technology. "This is the beginning of a revolution in how we pay for items on the High Street," said Gerry McQuade, chief development officer of Everything Everywhere, which owns Orange. "It is a cultural shift as important as the launches of the credit card and cash machines."

For more on mobile payments, see this month��s NACS Magazine cover story: "The High-Tech Payments Battle."