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Contactless donations to be rolled out across the Church of England

23 March 2018


An example of the portable card-reader now available to churches

An example of the portable card-reader now available to churches

CHURCHES in the UK have been given the green light to use contactless card payments for their collections, signalling an end to the rush to get loose change out of pockets.

More than 16,000 churches, cathedrals, and religious sites will be allowed to use contactless payment terminals, the Church of England announced on Tuesday.

Forty congregations were equipped with handheld terminals to process contactless card pay­ments up to the value of £30, last June, for a test trial of the scheme, which will now be extended across all dioceses (News, 30 June 2017). Parishes will be able to buy the portable readers on the C of E’s Parish Buying portal, through a partnership with SumUp and iZettle. Prices start at £19.50.

They are designed to be made available for one-off donations so that people can give more easily. The machines can take pay­ments from con­tactless and chip and pin bank cards, and Apple Pay and Google Pay on smartphones.

A volunteer will be required to be the “merchant”, processing the pay­ments and printing receipts, and a small transaction fee will be charged whenever the terminal is used, which will range from 1.1 to 1.25 per cent of the donation. The only drawback is that the church will need WiFi for the machines to operate.

The move is needed in a world where many of the congregation no longer carry change, the C of E’s National Stewardship and Resources Officer, John Preston, said on Tuesday. “How we pay for things is changing fast, especially for younger churchgoers, who no longer carry cash, and we want all genera­tions to be able to make the most of their place of worship.

“Installing this technology does mean that one-off fees can be done via card, as can making one-off donations. The vast bulk of regular giving will continue to be done by standing order as we continue our trial with various technologies.”

SUMUPCanon Martyn Taylor, Rector of St George’s, Stamford, with a portable terminal

The church secretary of St George’s, Stam­­ford, in Lincolnshire, Alison Davie, said: “Our parishioners can occasionally find themselves strapped for physical cash; so it’s fantastic to be able to offer an alternative which is quick and convenient. We hope this is a step forward for St George’s — and many other churches like it — in staying ahead in the modern era.”

Cathedrals and abbeys have also held trials of contactless payment schemes. Eight terminals, provided by the technology company Good­Box, have been installed in Romsey Abbey, and Ely, Guildford, St Edmundsbury, Chichester, Liver­pool, St Paul’s, and Newcastle Cathedrals in January (News, 19 January).

Further models were installed in Gloucester, Bristol, Hereford, Southwell, and Sheffield Cathedrals in the final phase of the pilot scheme.

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