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Why have contactless payments taken off so slowly?
Published 16 September 2012 by Joel Stanier
It seems that a slow take-up by retailers is preventing contactless payments from really taking off in the UK. So how long will it be before more of us are paying for things this way?
Experts believe we'll all be making 'contactless' payments within a few years, but the technology has certainly got off to a slow start. A recent mystery shopping exercise by Guardian Money found that many major retailers still don't accept contactless payments, and many retail assistants haven't even heard of the technology.
While some branches of McDonalds, Tesco, Asda and WH Smith now accept payments using contactless cards, the Guardian found that Starbucks, Costa Coffee and many others still don't.
Contactless payments have been heralded as the next big thing in banking, but it's still unclear how long it will be before it becomes widespread. There are obvious security concerns - with reports of fraudsters 'scanning' the cards remotely. Then there's the fact that most people are still happy to insert their card into a machine and enter their PIN. Contactless payments are quicker, but not that much quicker.
It has been suggested that mobile phones could help to encourage take-up of the technology. Many modern handsets contain a chip that enables users to make contactless payments and manage their bank account on the go. But by opting to leave the technology out of the new iPhone 5, Apple may have inadvertently dealt a blow to retailers looking to take advantage of the technology.
On the other hand, with most bank account providers including contactless payment chips in all their new debit cards, it could just be a matter of time before more people start making payments this way.
An expert at thinkmoney commented: "A contactless-enabled debit card is one thing that could encourage people to open a certain bank account, but it's certainly not a necessity, as most people are still happy with chip and PIN. Other benefits, like complementary insurance or roadside cover, may be a bigger draw for the time being."