/ Money, Technology

Do cashless payments really make your life easier?

contactless payment

Whether you’re catching the bus, parking your car – or paying for your child’s school dinners – you’re now often told you can’t use cash. Cashless payments are supposed to make life easier, but do they?

For example, you can’t take an impromptu bus ride in London. You’re expected to constantly carry your contactless Oyster card – on the off chance you might fancy a bus trip one day. I think that’s ridiculous.

The other week, when I was visiting my extended family, we went on a walk that lasted longer than planned. So my parents suggested we get the bus back. But I didn’t have my Oyster card and don’t have a contactless payment card, so Mum bussed it with my youngest, and the rest walked with me to keep me company.

OK, it got me out of helping prepare lunch, but whose idea was it to complicate such a simple thing – pay money, get on bus?

As any parent knows, there’s plenty to carry as it is. Water, snacks in case there’s a traffic jam, sun cream in case the sun shines, a brolly in case it rains. A change of clothes for when the kids fall in mud or dog mess, or they throw up in the car. Money, plasters, keys, phone … and on top of all this the payment card.

Should you have to make cashless payments?

Buses aren’t the only places that restrict how you pay. My children’s school only accepts payments online. Previously, you’d get the letter home about a school trip, then take in the cash. If you forgot or the letter went astray, you’d pay up when the teacher reminded you.

But now, the teacher reminds you, and you have to remember to make the payment. Which can be a long time if you’re heading off to work, rather than back home to your computer, or if your internet’s down.

In my case, I have to remember to remind my husband, as the login’s in his name. And then remember to check he’s done it. Which means we’ve had to introduce an admin system to make sure our kids don’t miss out.

I’m not against cashless payments. It’s no doubt easier for those accepting the payments and it can be easier for those of us making them, too.

Paying for parking using your mobile, instead of scrabbling around for loose change, for instance, is a great idea. Provided, you have a mobile on you that’s charged.

Why don’t those who introduce these cashless systems acknowledge that sometimes we can’t or don’t want to make cashless payments? Progress should make life easier, not more complicated.

What do you think of cashless payment systems? Do they make your life easier or more complicated?

C Gillett says:
26 July 2015

I only use cash, I find it more convenient than using a card. However, as I understand
the law of legal tender; legal tender i.e. cash, has to be accepted unless both parties
agree on using another method. If this is the case, then insisting on a card on use of
online payment could be illegal

C. Gillett

Legal tender applies only to the guaranteed settlement of debts and does not affect the right of the service provider to refuse service. No debt arises on a bus until you have been admitted and carried. Shops and transport operators can insist on particular forms of payment and have the right to refuse the service if you cannot comply. Interestingly, Oyster cards and contactless payment cards are not legal tender.

Robin szymura says:
27 July 2015

Visited London this weekend. Lots of posters on the underground showing a contact less card. No explanation about what the mayor of London is promoting. Two days I bought tube tickets using credit card via automated machine. Tickets were expensive !!!, last day travelling home, at Leicester Square all machines out of order. Staff said to me why don’t I use my contact less card. Fare would be £6.80 buying a ticket compared to £2.40 using a contact less card. Probably spent £20 extra over the weekend buying tickets. Classic example of an advertising campaign that tells you nothing. If only I’d known at the start of the weekend.

My concern is with the Which? method of testing and evaluating the security of the cards. A scanner can easily be used close to a wallet (or at least on a trial and error basis where a wallet may be carried) when, e.g., one is in a crowded train or any other stationary collection of people. The tests do not say anything about a realistic scenario where a someone has more than one such card in a wallet – I have two credit cards and a debit card all in the same wallet. Does a scanner get confused or does it manage to keep separate each card’s data, and record one or all of them? Even if not now, how long before a scanner is developed that can separate multiple cards and do it very quickly?

Audrey Lees says:
30 July 2015

Your information that First Direct Bank allows direct debit customers to opt out of contactless cards is wrong. I received my card in the post yesterday, tried to reject it by phone when I got in from work that evening and was told it is not optional and I must accept it; my old card expires in 30 days.

I now need to find a new current account without a mandatory contactless card but cannot rely on the Which table of contactless card providers for up to date information.

A few months ago my bank sent me a new debit card which also has the contactless option. I’ve only found one location where this can be used, but find it handy not having to fumble about looking for change. It’s much quicker, only taking a few seconds, compared to finding the cash, then having to wait for any change. It has a limit of £20 per transaction, so I feel if the card was lost or stolen, no great amount can be withdrawn from my account. Would like to see more locations that use this system.

The Which? matrix on banks issuing contactless cards is incorrect. Nationwide sent us them when our card expired.
We contacted them told them our concerns they said they were not convinced about Which ? Research but we insisted they were replaced or we would move away and they sent us normal cards.

Richard O'Brien says:
18 August 2015

I work regularly in many areas in London and have to take my car to various sites to carry my heavy equipment. Being able to pay for parking via an app on my phone is a great boost. The alternative is to keep upwards of £30 in cash each day in my car causing logistical problems. Only last week I was in Cambridge trying to park and found that I could use my London parking app there! Whether we like it or not, plastic is the future and for me I am embracing this new technology. With regards to contactless, the limit will only go up. Good. As to the concerns of the people above in this thread, go on, take that step into the 21st century…


” Commonwealth Bank customers can again access funds after a widespread technology outage affected credit cards, net banking, mobile banking, phone banking ATM, Bpay and eftpos services.
Earlier, there were reports that money paid for bills were not going through, and several customers reported being stranded at supermarkets and service stations, unable to pay for fuel or groceries.”

Sure get totally reliant on cards and the next step will be shops declining to deal with cash which will really screw things-up if there is either electrical supplu problems, local cuts, massive DDOS attacks, or far more likely corporate failings.

Every time the banks introduce a new feature they force us all to use is and then force us all to pay exorbitant charges for things we did not need, or would not have voluntarily paid for. Look at the way customers are currently chasing around supermarkets and petrol staions to save a penny here and there, but they are being conned into paying a ridiculous commisssion on everything now for the privilege of using a card and Apple and Google are taking their percentage as well for the phone payments.
The most annoying thing is the banks could not care less about security, they just factor in a percentage to cover fraud and we are all paying the same irrespective of how careful we are.
This is the beauty of insurance – the careful subsidise the high risk customers who don’t care/understand.

I finally had some good news about contactless cards. My new Halifax Visa debit card gave me the option of requesting a non-contactless version in spite of the fact that they refused to do this with their credit card from Mastercard. I will have another try at getting another credit card in case Halifax have changed their policy on this.

I’m fine with the idea of cashless payments, although I do like to have some cash on me, just in case, but! having been a victim of fraud in the past while my card was ‘safely’ on my person at the time! (a £1000 telephone transaction I was told). I was NOT happy about the idea of contactless cards. I won’t even use an outside hole in the wall now, preferring to use cash back services in my regular supermarket. I also cover the key pad with the other hand while I enter my pin number, and if the next customer behind me is too close for my liking I ask them to move back and give me some privacy. There really should be privacy lines painted on the floor and people should be made to adhere to them. Call me paranoid if you like, but once bitten twice shy.
Anyway, in preparation of my new card arriving earlier this year, I went into my bank two months in advance to specifically request a NON contactless card and was told that although I could opt out of the contactless version I had to wait until it arrived, and then contact the bank to request a replacement non contactless one, leaving me without a card for five working days! How stupid and inconvenient is that for those of us that don’t have, or want a hoard of cards?
The 21st century it may be, but when it comes to the security of our money and cards, technology still has a long way to go.


Presumably not directly to do with transfers but indicative that there are doubts as to the security of a major Microsoft product. There is no doubt that the rush to cashless and a digital interface is beginning to show major problems that have been skated over previously by all the fanboys – commercial interests and media pundits.

As a wheelchair user I feel very vulnerable just swiping a card. I contacted my credit card providers and my cards are now chip and pin except for one which is chip and signature and is a separate account. This I use for filling my car up with fuel – I won’t give my pin to anyone – when my card is returned I sign the receipt. Also some post offices haven’t easy access and if I want to transact business I hand my chip and signature card over. This makes life easier and I don’t have to divulge my pin. Also I keep all my cards in an RFID wallet to ensure they can’t be scanned.