/ 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.

Trevor Bottomley says:
3 August 2015

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,