Five Questions About: Contactless payments

What is contactless?

A next-generation payment system. Just as cheques, then credit, then debit cards offered alternatives to paying with cash, contactless or "wave and pay" does the same. Rather than having to key in your Pin when making a payment, you hold the card to a reader as authorisation.

Do I have contactless technology?

You may do. Barclays is the first high street bank to roll out contactless cards to all of its customers, with all new debit and credit cards having the capability. Also, all credit cards issued by MBNA are contactless. However, most other card providers are still rolling out or testing the system.

How do I know if I can pay with contactless cards?

Look for the contactless "wave" symbol, which will be displayed on your card.

Can I buy anything using contactless cards?

They are not accepted everywhere and the most you can spend in a single transaction is £15. The number of stores accepting the method is growing, however. You can pay by contactless at Boots, Clinton Cards, Caffé Nero, Pret, Eat, Subway and Ikea. It will be accepted in all McDonald's restaurants by the end of this month.

What does the future hold?

Yesterday Barclays and Orange launched the UK's first contactless payments through a mobile phone. Barclaycard holders and Barclays debit card customers can now simply tap their phone on a terminal to make payments of up to £15. Most of us will soon be able to "wave and pay" using similar smartphones. Lloyds, for instance, is current running a pilot project which it plans to roll out to customers later this year.