Contactless cards have yet to take off in a big way. But is that because people are reluctant to use the technology? Or is it due to retailers setting arbitrary ‘minimum payment’ limits that clearly defeat the point?
My bank, NatWest, emailed me this week to tell me it was sending out a new debit card capable of making contactless payments. Thanks very much – but I was happy enough with the old card. I suppose it may come in handy on occasions, but I’m still mainly a ‘cash man’ for small purchases.
This comes following the news that HSBC is issuing contactless debit cards to its customers, so that they can pay for goods with just one ‘tap’ at the Olympic Games. HSBC has also said that customers who don’t want this type of card can opt out by contacting their local HSBC branch.
A problem with minimum payments
One potential problem with contactless cards that recently came to my attention is minimum payments. A Which? Conversation reader emailed us to say that they’d tried to use their contactless Visa card at the branch of a popular high-street bakery, but was told that there was a £2 minimum spend.
He was then told at another branch of the same bakery that there was a minimum spend of £3. When he contacted their head office, it told him that company policy was to enforce a £3 minimum spend.
Our persistent reader then contacted Visa and was told that ‘Visa merchants are not permitted to establish minimum transaction amounts, even on sale items’. It seems that shops are setting their own minimum amounts, which could be putting people off from using contactless cards.
Overall, minimum payment policies appear to defeat the main appeal of contactless cards – not having to carry around pockets full of coins.
Contactless cards don’t catch on
This reader’s story comes on the back of research from Mintel showing that people are fairly reluctant to use their contactless cards and many are unsure whether they even have them or not. The research highlighted that only 25% of contactless card holders ever using them to make payments.
So why do you think people are reluctant to use their contactless cards? Have you had your contactless payment turned down because the total amount was too low?