NFC payment

Starbucks is the latest retailer to introduce contactless payments, announcing a partnership with Visa Europe and Barclaycard to roll out near field communication (NFC) point of sale terminals across 550 UK stores.

According to Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing for Starbucks UK, the coffee shop chain made the decision to roll out the NFC technology to speed transaction times, claiming that two thirds of its customers now paying by credit or debit card rather than cash.

“We are now able to provide our customers with the quickest and most convenient ways to pay, to speed up service and cut queue times,” Cranna said, adding that the contactless payment terminals will add to the range of payment methods at Starbucks. The firm has also previously developed mobile payment applications, allowing Android and iOS smartphone users which have signed up to its loyalty card scheme to pay in hundreds of stores in the UK via a barcode generated on the device.

Starbucks now joins a number of other companies which have rolled out the contactless payment technology, including Boots, which has introduced the technology to 600 UK and Ireland stores earlier this year, and the Post Office, which last year announced plans for the largest contactless payments scheme in Europe. In addition, Marks & Spencer recently extended a contactless payment trial across 644 stores, and claims to now take over 230,000 contactless transactions every week in the UK, while contactless payments are made on buses in London.

Mark Austin, vice president at Visa Europe, added that as use of contactless payments gathers pace - with one in four UK Visa cards now contactless payment enabled – it is expected usage to “quadruple again by the end of 2013”.

However there have been teething problems with the technology. A number of Marks & Spencer customers complained that they have been charged on two payment cards for single transactions after the payment terminal inadvertently completed a transaction using another NFC-enabled card.

Awareness of the technology still has a way to go too, with a recent survey from eDigitalResearch showing that the majority of those owning an NFC enabled card are unaware of their ability to make contactless payments, though the percentage has grown in the last 12 months.