Coles to go contactless in 2012

Grocery giant Coles is set to deploy contactless card readers at its checkouts for payments under $100.

Grocery giant Coles is set to deploy contactless card readers at its checkouts for payments under $100.

Shopping trolley

(Portrait of a Shopping Trolley image by Timothy Allen, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Starting early next year, Coles will upgrade its Ingenico payment terminals to support contactless credit and debit-card payments. Coles' finance director, Tony Buffin, said that the supermarket would test the readers in selected stores in February, before completing the roll-out by July.

"This new technology is another way we're making the shopping experience at Coles a little bit simpler and faster for our customers," Buffin said.

Coles worked with Visa to get the contactless system off the ground in a project that Visa Australia's country manager, Vipin Kalra, said was an "exciting project to work on".

"Australian shoppers are clearly embracing contactless payments — in fact, we've seen a 150 per cent increase in the number of Visa payWave transactions in the September quarter compared to the June quarter," Kalra added.

Coles had expressed hesitation in the past to a roll-out of contactless payments to stores, with the company's head of payments, Douglas Swansson, telling ZDNet Australia this year that getting it wrong would alienate customers while breeding security concerns in shoppers aged over 50.

"If we go too bleeding edge, we may end up getting it wrong and damaging the customer experience," Swansson said in March. With today's news, however, Coles has been quick to assure customers that they are protected against potential misuse of their cards under the Visa "Zero Liability" policy.

Coles joins other stores like Bunnings Warehouse, Woolworths and Caltex in rolling out contactless payment facilities. Woolworths — Coles' biggest rival in the grocery market — announced that it would go contactless back in May, but hasn't yet named a completion date for its 30,000-terminal roll-out.