Millions of UK credit cards to go ‘contactless’

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MBNA, Europe’s largest credit card lender, has begun a two-year programme to roll out contactless credit cards for its millions of UK customers.

MBNA’s commitment means that more than 5 million MBNA-issued credit cards will have contactless technology by the end of 2011. That is in addition to around 10 million contactless-enabled credit and debit cards already in the UK market – a total that could rise to 25 million by 2012.

MBNA will support the evolution of contactless payments in the UK by ensuring all new and replacement MBNA credit cards are compliant with the payment function. Ian O’Doherty, Europe card executive for Bank of America, which operates the MBNA brand, says: ‘With this two-year roll out of new and replacement contactless-enabled cards, we are reinforcing our support for the evolution of contactless technology in the UK.’

An MBNA survey of more than 1,000 credit card users reveals that the public is overwhelmingly positive about contactless technology and the benefits it gives them – notably speed and ease of use.

Eighty percent of those surveyed agreed it would help save time in queues when paying for items, and 69% believe the emerging technology will make their lives easier and benefit consumers (63.5%) and businesses (78%).

MBNA has added layers of security to their cards. For example, contactless cards cannot be used until a PIN is entered on first use; payments are limited to up to £15 per transaction; and customers will occasionally be asked to enter their PIN to ensure the transactions are valid. In addition, MBNA customers who are innocent victims of fraud or theft are fully protected on their credit cards.

In a similar move, Virgin Money is joining the contactless credit card revolution enabling its customers to pay for items worth up to £15.

All 2 million cards across the banking group’s market-leading range will be replaced with cards containing contactless technology allowing customers to pay for items without entering their PIN.

The move comes ahead of a major expansion of the technology across the UK with leading retailers including Boots, the Co-Op and Little Chef announcing plans to install terminals.

Around one in five credit and debit cards will be enabled for ‘tap and go’ by the end of this year with Virgin Money introducing the technology from 25 October across its range.

Pickup among businesses is gathering pace with Subway, Pr