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Barclays set to make all debit cards contactless

The bank aims to replace its entire fleet of debit cards with new cards featuring contactless-payment functionality by 2011
Written by Julian Goldsmith, Contributor

Barclays is to replace its entire fleet of debit cards with new ones featuring contactless-payment functionality.

From March, any replacement cards issued by the bank will come embedded with NFC (near-field communications) chips, enabling users to pay for goods under £10 by swiping their card over a reader, without the need to enter a PIN.

In addition, all new customers to the bank from March will be given contactless cards.

Barclays estimates its entire debit card estate will be contactless by the end of 2011.

Barclays already has one million Visa credit cards capable of contactless payments in use, according to head of debit cards Brian Cunnington. The bank expects to have three million contactless Visa debit cards in circulation by the end of the year.

More than 8,000 retailers accept contactless payments, the bank said, including Books Etc, Coffee Republic, Eat, Krispy Kreme, Pret A Manger and Threshers, as well as many independent retailers.

Cunnington told ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com: "Customers can expect a more efficient service. There is no PIN to put in and there is no card-transaction receipt, because it's supposed to be similar to a cash payment."

The bank too will benefit from a reduced cash-handling cost in the long term, although Cunnington admits the death of cash is a long way off.

"This move starts the transition towards removing cash but it will take time. Hopefully we will in time see a drop in the use of cash," he said.

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