News & Views - Savantor

Slow Take-up on Contactless in Real Terms

Monday, 03 March 2008

‘It is expected that by the end of 2007, the UK issuers will issue contactless debit and credit cards to customers who live or work in the London roll-out area’  So said an article back in October 2007.  Well as someone who both lives and works in the London area and possesses cards from four different issuers, only one – Barclaycard – has so far offered me a contactless card.  Am I alone in this or are issuers a little less bullish than previously thought about the contactless revolution?  There seems little obvious sign of terminals in the London area – apart from Krispy Kreme - and there has been little evidence in the press so far this year of a continued roll out across the UK although Manchester City FC continue with their Prepaid Seasoncard, currently on trial with 3,500 season ticket holders. This card stores membership data and is capable of interfacing contactlessly to the Manchester City Stadium turnstiles to allow entry to home matches, it also supports standard Chip and PIN payments and contactless payments with MasterCard PayPass.  Barclaycard are clearly pushing One Pulse but where is the drive from the other issuers?

In the US there has been mixed feelings about contactless with retailers claiming the cards are being declined too often.  Customers are being encouraged to simply swipe their cards without any CVM usage as this is at least as fast as contactless and is apparently more reliable.  None of this is good news for the UK contactless roll out or is it just paving the way for an early switch to NFC?  When you simplistically compare the number of plastics in issue to the number of mobiles used it makes a powerful case for where to direct investment.

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