MBNA rolls out contactless

The UK’s largest credit card provider MBNA, has announced the start of its two-year programme that will see its 6 million customer base moved over to contactless cards by January 1st 2012.

To achieve this, MBNA will issue a new contactless card each time a new or replacement card request is made by a customer, the lender estimates that most of its card-holders will have the ability to pay without a PIN by the start of 2012. Contactless payment is a relatively new option at the checkout and is currently limited to GBP15 per transaction, but the card provider can see the benefit to customers of this easier and faster way of paying.

Speaking about the new programme on the MBNA website, Ian O’Doherty, Europe Card executive for Bank of America, which operates the MBNA brand, said: “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.”

He went on to say: “We are committed to offering simplicity, added value and choice in all of our products and services – enabling our customers to use contactless payments is a fantastic example of making that commitment a reality.”

Using a contactless card is the very definition of ease, with those holding Oyster travel cards already familiar with the action required. When at the checkout of a store that has contactless technology, card-holders simply touch their card to the payment terminal. There’s no need to enter your pin number; it’s completely compatible with Visa and Mastercard Systems and is available wherever the contactless symbol is shown.

Although transactions are limited to GBP15, MBNA estimates that adoption of the technology by customers may be slow due to potential security concerns. As a result, the card provider has outlined the multiple layers of security that the contactless system supports. This includes the requirement of a pin number on the first use and again for random transactions. MBNA credit card holders  wanting to start using contactless payments can request a new card, otherwise there’s no need to do anything, as the lender will provide a compatible new or replacement card when re-issued.

The number of retailers supporting contactless technology is rapidly increasing and with good reason as the estimated number of existing compatible cards is around ten million. This figure is expected to reach 25 million by 2012 as more card issuers adopt the technology. Current contactless retailers include: Subway, Pret a Manger and Caffe Nero with the Co-op, Clinton Cards, Boots, Spar, National Trust gift shops and Little Chef restaurants all either trialing the technology or rolling it out at the time of publication.