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UK public contactless payment technology begins roll-out

UK public contactless payment technology begins roll-out
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August 26, 2007 Money makes the world go around, and as with any system, reducing the frictional losses should benefit the productivity of that system – so the publicity stunt staged in a McDonalds drive-through in London with a Formula One car is quite significant. It was nominally the first use of contactless payment in the UK and marks the beginning of the roll-out of contactless cards which use radio wave card technology. When the contactless card is placed in very close proximity to the terminal, it transmits data from the card to the retailer’s card reader. The new technology allows contactless purchases up to UKP10 and normal chip & PIN purchases above that amount. Trials have shown the cards can halve the time taken for a cash transaction.

The purchase at McDonalds marks the start of the roll-out of proven, secure, reliable, simple and easy to use contactless card technology in the UK. The RBS–sponsored AT&T Williams team made the first public contactless card payment using an RBS contactless debit card at the Billingsgate McDonald’s drive-through.

Contactless means people can now make fast payments for items up to £10 simply by touching their specially-enabled RBS contactless debit or credit card on an RBS terminal - no need to fish around for change, hand a card over to anyone or swipe a card.

Contactless cards make paying easier and faster than with regular cards and cash. The hamburger was paid for simply by placing a RBS contactless card on the reader. Paying for the order took just a few seconds.

“Everyone wins with this new way to pay,” said the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Iain Clink of the culmination of the first contactless trials in Europe. “People love the convenience and speed of the card as well as the freedom from worrying about whether they have enough change for everyday things like morning coffee, a newspaper or a sandwich at lunchtime. Retailers like contactless cards too because they make paying faster which means faster moving queues and happier customers.” McDonald’s UK CIO Ivan Brooks, said, “we are delighted to be facilitating the first public contactless card payment in this country and this is another step for us in modernizing and evolving the business. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the overall customer experience and the speed and simplicity of paying for McDonald’s food in this way is one element of this. Contactless payment will be available in 12 of our London restaurants by the beginning of October and eventually we hope to roll this technology out further across the country.”

In addition to McDonalds, RBS has already signed up other retailers including Oddbins and cafes, delis, pharmacies, bars and sandwich shops in the City of London and on the South Bank of the Thames where the new technology is being introduced to allow customers to use contactless cards to make cash-free low value purchases. These retailers will start to use the new technology from September.

RBS employees in Edinburgh and London were the first to trial the new cards in the UK, using them at retailers in the bank’s headquarters and one of its London offices and since the trial started in June 2006 over 52,000 purchases have been made.

In early November, RBS will start to issue several hundred thousand contactless debit and credit cards to RBS, NatWest and MINT customers who live or work in the London roll-out area. In the meantime, RBS has launched a website for customers to register their interest in receiving a contactless debit or credit card.

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