WORSHIPPERS attending the York Minster service for the General Synod last Sunday found themselves trying out the latest in high-tech donating when the collection plate turned out to be a contactless-payment terminal.
The GoodPlate, four of which were in use last weekend, combines the traditional open circular brass dish for cash gifts with a card reader in the centre. Designed by GoodBox, it is a further version of the hand-held system already in use in churches, and has been on trial at St Albans Cathedral and in the dioceses of London and Oxford since Easter.
First trials of handheld terminals to process contactless card payments up to the value of £30 were made in 2017 (News, 30 June 2017). Last year, parishes were able to buy the portable readers on the C of E’s Parish Buying portal, through a partnership with SumUp and iZettle (News, 23 March 2018).
A spokeswoman for York Minster said: “The makers wanted to try it out with an influential audience in the Church of England. It was a trial, and obviously we will want to see the analysis from it. There is some way to go before something like that would be used as a matter of routine, and it will involve some training for our stewards and others, but, from what we saw, it looked pretty good.
“There was lots of engagement, people were really interested in it, and lots of them seemed to be using it. It offered the choice of two donations — £5 and £10 — but there was a way of overriding that, because I did see a couple of people donating more.”
Their only concern was the time taken to make a payment. “You don’t just throw a couple of coins in. If you are having to tap it, and perhaps the collection doesn’t come as quickly as you hoped, then there might be some delay. That is something we might want to look at, just to make sure that, whatever the system is, it is the best one for our purposes.”
GoodBox, which has a contract with the Church of England to supply the devices, says that it has already sold 100 systems to churches, as well as to mosques, across the country. They retail at £139 for the plate and £135 for the touchpad, but there are discounts if it is purchased through Parish Buying. GoodBox says that the introduction of a contactless collection has led to a significant increase in donations.
The head of visitor services for St Albans Cathedral, Laura Bloom, said: “Our congregations were excited to use this new innovative device, and it proved to be a popular option on both the Sunday and Monday services. The plate is easy to use, and looks fantastic.”