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Have Your Say: Contactless Cards

Contactless card
What do you think of contactless cards?

Listeners have been contacting Money Box angry about replacement debit and credit cards which they think are not secure.

These new cards are contactless - they have a special wave symbol on them and can be used to buy items under £15 without having to enter a PIN. Barclays says £10 million of its customers already have these "contact-less" cards and MBNA is rolling out too. The banks and retailers believe the contact-less system will speed up transactions and reduce queues.

Have you recently been issued with a contactless card?

What do you think about not using a PIN?

Do they make shopping easier and more convenient?

Tell us your experiences.


I was issued a Barclay contactless debit card and agree with the woman on your programme that £15 is not a 'small' amount and the chances of fraud, due to theft or a lost card, are great. I for one will be contacting Barclays to request a card without this feature. Incidentally, I've never considered using this facility and am sure I'm not alone in this.

J Fenner, London

Why must people be so negative about what is obviously a massive improvement in convenience? If people don't want a contactless card, go to another bank. But Barclays made it clear that if you lose your card and tell them, they will believe you! You don't have to prove that every purchase made by your card was made by you.

Hugh, Newmarket

Just heard this item and was appalled! I'm not a Barclays customer (thankfully). £15 is a significant sum of money for many young people and pensioners without generous company pensions. You only have to watch shoppers for a few minutes in supermarkets - many are being careful with their expenditure. If my bank introduce this scheme, I shall not use their card.

Doreen, Cheltenham

I don't think Heather was listening to the guy from Barclays. He made it pretty clear that people will not lose money if their card is taken and misused and that they will even tolerate a limited degree of fraud to make this the case. This is a good idea and I don't think the extra cost of an opt out is justified. People are just too conservative and waste time imagining highly improbable, if not impossible, problems.

Cameron, Buxton

We know that credit card companies receive a fee for each card transaction, whereas when we use cash they get nothing. Are they simply pushing contactless cards onto us in an effort to monetize EVERY transaction we make?

Gawain, Salisbury

I have used oyster cards when abroad and am in favour. I do understand people's concerns and maybe a compromise would be to have a system that allows you to 'top up' your debit card to a cash threshold of your choosing so that it operates like a traditional cash card.

Graeme, York

I can't wait until my bank introduces this. I use an Oyster card for London underground and it is so helpful - I can even use it while still in my wallet. You should always be careful with your cards whatever.

Duncan, Bristol

I'm not worried even if my bank do insist on giving me a contactless card, I just won't use it - Lloyds are you listening? I transfer funds to my Cashbackcard which is a re-loadable Mastercard debit card and I get cash back on all my transactions. I have to give my PIN and the card is acceptable everywhere that shows the Mastercard symbol.

Jenny, Havant

I am wondering what is to stop a criminal from creating a reader that he can hold in a bag and walk down the street, extracting cash from anyone careless enough to walk too close to him/her? An electronic pickpocket would be quite tempting to such people, I think?

Dan, Melksham, Wiltshire

Given that my credit card provider failed 2 years ago, to spot fraudulent debits on my account which involved three payments of £9.95 taken within minutes of each other, I certainly wouldn't trust their assurances. I no longer use Barclaycard.

Karen Mountford, Suffolk

My mother, who has Alzheimers, suffered from fraud when a supermarket quick pay terminal did not require a pin for lower value transactions. She was "befriended" by schoolgirls who used her debit card but then replaced it in her purse. I spotted this on her bank account and did get the money refunded under the bank's anti-fraud policy. I dread to think how big this problem would have got if the use of such PIN free machines was widespread and unavoidable!


There is no way I would accept a contact-less debit or credit card. I would immediately ask for a replacement. If not available I would cancel the card.

Richard, Northampton

I hate this idea and agree that it seems totally insecure. Why is it better than cash??? If I am sent one I shall probably simply destroy it!

Denise, Loughborough

Contactless is not the only way credit and debit cards can be used without PIN or signature. I paid £7.50 parking charges at the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading on Wednesday with a Mastercard and was slightly surprised that the machine didn't ask for a PIN. But actually I don't mind because it moves the queue more quickly and it is a relatively small amount of money. Tolls on French Autoroutes are the same - the machine takes credit card payments with no verification.

Owners of credit and debit cards need to take responsibility for their cards and those of us that do should not be penalised with lack of convenience for the sake of those who are less careful with their cards.

Tony, Oxford

If my bank (Halifax) issue me with a contactless card I will simply change banks. I don't want a contactless card and as a pensioner I can't afford to lose money. They say if you go along with 'evidence' they will refund the money. What 'evidence' can you have if you didn't make the transaction!

Angela, Bracknell

Currently some banks aren't allowing customers to opt-out of the contactless scheme and Barclays have said that they'll reimburse those affected by theft.

What will happen if they renege on this promise and only cover those purchases that the customer can PROVE that they've not made?

I would suggest if banks act in this vain then it's time for statutory provision to be made.

Craig, Manchester

I stopped using them some time ago after a number of thefts in crowds by mobile contactless card readers.

Roger, Warrington

I have lived in Belgium over 7 years and have used contactless direct debit cards since I arrived. They are quick and convenient to use for small value items and PIN for higher value transactions. I also have a personal ID card which is very convenient for proof of identity at banks when opening accounts to gaining access to my local recycling plant. Change seems to be an issue for some. There is a duty of care to keep your cards safe just as you would do with cash in your pocket.

David, Belgium

I believe that the "contactless" system that has been operated by banks in Belgium for several years is much more secure than that proposed by the UK banks. The Belgian system, known as PROTON, requires users to preload their card at any ATM - using their PIN - with any amount from €10 up. I in lived Brussels for many years and would keep no more than €50 in the PROTON section of my card so as to have the convenience without too big a risk. It really is a very convenient service and managed in the Belgian way more secure and at the choice of the individual. The UK banks proposed system lacks ths essential of choice and personal management.

Richard, Kent

I have a Barclaycard One Plus Oyster which I use when visiting London and use by 'swiping' my wallet. Whilst I would find a contactless debit card useful how will the machine discriminate between which one I am using. Will my debit card be Oyster compatible?

Bob, Kent

I too believe that what the banks might consider a small amount, may very well be a substantial amount for many. I would like to see the system set up so that just like the card and the base station need to be near each other in order for the payment to go through, the card and your mobile phone via an app would also need to be near each other for the card to function. This would certainly reduce the risk of fraud.

Vincenzo, Birmingham

Having lived in France for 30 years I have used chip and pin cards since they were first introduced over here. Most people use such cards on a daily basis and cheques are becoming much less common. I have not noticed any increase in queues because of this system and feel protected by the pin number.

As demonstrated in your programme, anyone can use the pin-less card. Apart from pickpockets, friends and relations including children might "borrow" them and return them without the owner's knowledge. How shaming it would be to have to report this to your bank.

Veronica, Paris

We are now in the situation where the cart is pushing the horse. As a customer it is very difficult to confront banks about their desire to have everything their own way. Contactless cards make no security sense whatsoever and as a persom with limited means-a pensioner- a have no desire to put this at risk, maybe this is on a par with getting rid of cheques-nothing to do with customer convenience-more to do with banking costs.

Enid, Stoke

The complacency of the Barclaycard executive was breathtaking. A "small" amount to him could cause untold misery and difficulty if it put someone's account into the red with the disastrous knock-on effects - and this even before they realised the card had been misused.

Pamela, St Albans

This is just the thin end of the wedge. It is the first step towards abolishing cash. Once these pin-less cards have got rid of cash, we will be totally at the mercy of the bankers and financiers. To say nothing of all sorts of petty officials. Once there is no cash, your ability to function in the world is at their discretion. Cards? Well, ultimately the chip will probably be implanted in your wrist.

Lyn, Glastonbury

I was issued with one of these cards in December last year and think it is a great idea. Over the course of the year, I've only been able to use the facility very infrequently though as there are very few local retailers where I can use it. One retailer recently put through my purchase as a non-contactless payment (even though they had the facility installed). This could be a solution for those who want to continue using chip and PIN.

The PR spokesperson from Barclays said there are safeguards in place if the card is used too many times over a short period. I doubt that the card companies wouldn't take action to address the PIN issue if they were losing large sums of money due to fraud.

My assessment is roll this out more widely outside London.

Graeme, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire

When fraud becomes widespread as it will with such an easy target do you really think Barclays will still be happy to refund all the small frauds? No of course they won't. Why are people so lazy and in such a hurry that they are not able to spend the time entering their pin number? Why did this ever need to be invented? The opportunities for identity theft will be so much more widespread.

Sarah, Leicester

People should have the opportunity to opt out. Every person's personal, business, and social circumstances differ as do their concerns about security. Some people simply do not want the continuing worry about what COULD happpen to their bank account. They may be concerned about the POTENTIAL hassle if and when fraud (ever) occurs. Yes, the Barclays spokesman said it wouldn't be a problem; but he wouldn't be the one dealing with each particular case. A feature like this should not be imposed on people. Even if they do not choose to use it, if it is a feature of their card, they remain at risk from the technological criminals. Yes, this technology will prove useful to many; but those who do not wish to avail themselves of it should have the choice of opting out from it totally.

Judy, Hampshire

Our business has been inundated with material about Barclays Freedom contactless card.

We have even been encouraged to stick the "We take Freedom" sticker in our shop window - with the incentive of a prize if we photograph it in position and send it to Barclays! But nobody from the bank has ever bothered to ask us whether we want the equipment to actually take payments - let alone deliver it.

On the other side, no customer has ever asked to benefit from this murkey and rather confusing system. Despite the huge advertising budget that's been spent I wonder how many people even know contactless cards exist - or how to use the damn things.

I must say, I've considered the whole thing a complete waste of time and money from the moment I was alerted to it. It's so much easier to get a purse out with a few coins for cups of tea and coffee, and punching a pin number in for purchases approaching £15 is much more reassuring than some piece of plastic that could so easily be lost by it's owner.

As an additional comparison with cash, this year I have picked up more than £100 in coins and notes I've found on the ground. I've also returned three Oyster cards that have fallen out of people's pockets, purses and bags. How many contactless cards will I be finding in the future.

Roger, London

Safer than losing cash, removes the opportunity to be short-changed, despite the urban myth here about passing people with card readers in the street.

Ron, Crawley

I am more worried about the privacy - for how long will the bank store details of everything we have bought (newspaper names, type of sandwiches, coffee preferences etc etc) and what will they use this information for. They could quickly build up a pretty good idea of your moment-to-moment life style.

James , London

Good old Barclays - they've done it again. Remember the 'sneaky' introduction of the £10 fee for their credit card a few years back. It didn't go down well and many people closed their Barclaycard accounts - me included. You would have thought they might have learnt their lesson from this debacle and try and treat their customers with a bit more respect. Alas no - I suppose I will have to send my debit card back now and change banks.

Nigel, Norwich

I am one of the 10 million customers to whom Barclays Bank claim to have issued one of their contactless debit cards.

Ms Coleman has made some excellent points on today's programme, which echo what my own thoughts were when I unexpectedly received the card through the post earlier this year.

A couple of point of my own:

i) Barclays may be right in saying that 10 million of their customers have been issued with these contactless cards, but the point here is that Barclays did not inform me of this new system prior to sending me the card, let alone giving me an option to opt out. Hence, the system has simply been forced on me without my agreement.

ii) After putting a great deal of investment into ways of making the process of payment by card more secure, e.g. initiatives such as "Chip and PIN" and "Verified by Visa", the banks are now effectively re-writing the rules and in doing so are making their customers more vulnerable to fraud.

I agree completely that each provider should give their customers the right to opt out. If Barclays do not revise their policy then like Ms Coleman I will also be changing my bank account pretty soon.

Mr Parker, Kent

I was issued with a contactless card a couple of years ago when Barclays took over my Goldfish card. At the time the contactless limit was £10 per transaction. I complained that, while they were promoting the security of "chip and pin" method (which had just been introduced), they were relaxing security by allowing contactless ("pinless") transactions, which could easily be read by counterfeit mobile contactless card readers. Barclays' only answer was that they would address any claims for fraudulent transactions. I was not willing to be on constant guard against fraud, with no guarantee of successful claims, so immediately cut up my Barclays card.

Izzy, Edinburgh

The idea of contactless is a replacement for those low value purchases that would normally be made by cash. If your wallet or purse is stolen with £50-£60 in it you have lost that money with no protection. With the contactless cards there are protections in place as you are able to contact your bank to get your money back, you and your bank can track the purchases made on the card and it will ask you for a PIN if numerous transactions are made over a short period.

John, London

To those who say don't worry because Barclays have accepted that they will have to pay out in cases of fraud I say who do you think will really be paying? All Barclays customers will now be subsidising the losses, however careful they themselves are. If the only "opt out" available is to switch banks then that is what I will have to do.

Naomi, South Bucks

It was an interesting article about contactless payment, but very one-sided.

Firstly, when the spokesman for Barclaycard said that £15 isn't a lot of money, he was talking from the bank's point of view. He said that Barclaycard didn't want to lose customers by arguing about 10 or 15 pounds. For your listener to complain that she thinks that £15 is a lot of money isn't relevant.

Secondly, she complained that it should be possible for the system to opt her out of contactless payment, even if the card had been manufactured with the chip. She seemed to be missing the point that part of the speed of small value transactions is that there's no need to check with the bank for each transaction.

Personally, I applied for a Barclaycard as soon as the trial started, and find it a very convenient way to pay.

Rob, Slough

I am leaving my BarclayCard at home. As an electronic engineer who was involved in RFID I am all too aware of just how easy this is to implement.

Nic, Solilhull

Surely with Barclaycard, and/or other contact-less card providers, setting a limit of £15 immediately tells us that they themselves do not think it is safe. If it is safe, secure and fraud-free, why have a limit? (I know there are generally limits to credit/debit cards, but nothing this low.) I do not want this, will not use and will actively seek to move my account if there is no opt-out.

The lady on the programme made some excellent points. We should not be pressurised by the banks to accept this - they are offering US a service for all the cash that we deposit which they use quite rightly to make their profits.

Deepak, Essex

The most disturbing element of the contactless card technolgy is the banks seem to be bringing it in, in a compulsory fashion. I am happy for other people to use contactless cards if they are happy with the risk, but I resent having it foisted on me without consultation. If the Co-operative bank does indeed make contactless cards compulsory, I will be moving my accounts elsewhere.

A. S. C, Dundee

For some years I have been able to pay for parking without entering my PIN at any of the town centre car parks in Reading and at Heathrow. If I don't need my PIN, doesn't give the same problems as you were reporting on with contactless cards?

John, Reading

I remember that in Leeds in 1997 they had a trial of VisaCash which was a very similar system (although not contactless-you had to stick the card in a slot). It was for small transactions and there was no PIN required.

I was quite keen on it, but I found the problem was that many retailers in the trial didn't know how to use the machines and I remember one case where they had to get the machine out from the back room and plug it in before I could pay via it!

I don't see the lack of PIN being a massive problem - they can easily set the system so it requests a PIN if there are a couple of transactions in quick succession - if the card HAS been stolen it'll not work and if it hasn't been stolen all you'll have to do is enter your PIN and get on with your life!

Jonathan, Leeds

I appreciate the notion of convenience, but am appalled at the lack of security - especially after all the work that was done to make cards secure. The sums of money that might be 'stolen' matter to those who lose them. It is too easy for the banks to say that they're not troubled at refunding such small amounts.

At the end of the day we will be paying the cost of the losses in increased charges, restricted services, lower interest. This is no time to be suggesting we 'wave' our money about in such a happy-go-lucky manner. Other posts give pointers towards something safer and convenient, such ad preloaded cards.

Joan H Craig, Perth

How typical of bankers to dismiss the concerns of people regarding 'small amounts'. Their lack of interest and care over what they regard as insignificant is one of the reasons they have caused so many current financial problems. If banks end up writing off debts caused by these cards, we'll all end up paying for it anyway through bank charges and possible a compulsory charge for the card (which we'll have to have as there won't be any cash and the banks will finally have achieved what they want to achieve - our total reliance on them).

Al, Nottingham

I think that many people are missing the main worry...With readers becoming smaller , lap tops etc..what's to stop an individual charging small amounts to hundreds of cards...on to their account ?

Jack, Aylesbury

If stolen, and (I'm guessing we are allowed four transactions before entering a pin ) a thief could take almost £60 from our account. Which is far more than I would carry around in my wallet in cash. I think that soon after the £15 limit will come greater and greater limits until we will have no cash at all. I think it's just a 'softly softly' approach to removing cash completely.

Can it be copied ? Every time a card is rolled out they say it is definitely secure but every time it proves not to be so !

I also note that each transaction will be electronically registered, something that doesn't happen with cash, so we can be tracked each time we spend with this card.

Cliff, Basildon

When you use a card to buy something the retailer has to pay a charge. Usually for debit cards this is a fixed amount. For small value transactions this can be a large percentage of the retailer's profit. If, on the other hand, you take money out of a cash machine the bank doesn't charge anyone. I don't think I'm being cynical in thinking this is the banks' main reason for introducing these cards.

Matthew, Ambleside

I had this option on a card I had previously but I never had the chance to use it. I'd love to have it back. As a solution to the initial problem, why can't banks allow people to set their OWN limit (up to the banks standard limit) after which value the retailer will ask for a pin.

This will reduce the likelihood of fraud as thieves won't know what they can spend up to and also will give customers what they want, ie the option to set a zero limit before it asks for a pin. The banks can then carry on mass-producing the cards like they want & the customers are in control if that's what bothers them. Surely this can't be that difficult for the banks to implement?

Dave, Lancashire

I'm not sure I want a cashless world where every transaction I make is logged on a data base, I also agree with the comments regarding possible security problems.

I had to smile at the Barclays execs. assurance that any fraudulent payments will be refunded as, no doubt ,like internet card fraud it will be the retailer that has to make the refund. Clearly many people like the idea, others not, so the answer is to give us the choice not foist it on us. Arrogant bankers.

Rob, Maidenhead

I don't like the idea of Barclay's accepting a tolerable amount of fraud in order to make the card more convenient. Recently were introduced card readers at checkout that you could scan and enter data and it would run the bank check while the clerk was still scanning items. This is a real time saver. How about a little space where a customer can put his/her wallet back together without having to rush so the next customer doesn't have to wait?

Sarah, Florida, USA

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