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Wave goodbye to cash: pay bills with a flick of the wrist

CONSUMERS will soon be able to make small purchases such as a coffee or a newspaper with a wave of a debit card.

Bank of Ireland announced yesterday that it will soon roll out a "contactless" Visa Debit payment system to allow shoppers make purchases of €15 or less in under a second by simply holding their card over a terminal without entering a PIN.

But though bank charges of up to 28c a time for using a debit card could make this an expensive habit, the bank also said they will waive all charges for using the system for the first 12 months to encourage people to try it.

It was too early to say what the charges after that time would be, but they would be competitive, and most customers already benefited from free banking, a spokesperson for the bank said.

The system will be available when one million Visa Debit cards are issued to Bank of Ireland customers later this year as part of their previously announced switch away from Laser Debit cards.

Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB already use Visa Debit cards, but Bank of Ireland said it was the first bank in Ireland to offer the new technology allowing the cards be used to make contactless purchases.

However, this type of electronic purse has already been rolled out in Europe with over 20 million of them already in circulation and another seven million people expected to be using them in Britain by the end of the year.


"From the end of this year counting coins to pay for items such as fast food, newspapers or coffee will be history for Bank of Ireland's customers who choose to embrace this new technology," said Quentin Teggin, head of consumer segments with BoI.

All such transactions would appear on a customer's bank statement allowing them to track their spending, and there would be an added security measure requiring a PIN number if the card was used a large number of times or over a certain value.

The readers necessary to make these payments will also be rolled out to retail outlets in coming months, and they will display a symbol to show customers if they have one.

Bank of Ireland said that over 70pc of payments in Ireland are still made by cash and Irish consumers remain the biggest users of ATMs in Europe.

On average consumers withdrew €5,000 each from ATMs last year, so the move to the new technology would be in line with government targets to reduce cash and cheque use and move to electronic transactions.

Irish Independent