MasterCard is aiming to launch the first contactless payment system in London later this year. The payments giant plans to beat rivals Visa and Apex by launching credit and debit cards with Royal Bank of Scotland using its PayPass system in the autumn.
The new card will allow customers to pay for their goods without the need to swipe a card or sign a receipt, in a way similar to the Oyster card system operated by Transport for London (TfL).
The London MasterCard launch covers the London corridor – north and south of the Thames, running from Waterloo to Canary Wharf. The cards, which will retain the existing chip and pin and magnetic stripe functions, will be issued through RBS, NatWest, MINT and Ulster Bank.
TfL has already signed a deal with Barclaycard and Visa to launch a range of Oyster-branded credit and debit cards, which are also expected in the autumn.
The cards are suited to transactions at fast food restaurants, coffee shops, newsagents, off-licences, bars, pubs, parking facilities and vending machines.
MasterCard UK country manager John Bushby says that consumers will love the convenience, simplicity and security of contactless cards when paying for everyday things.
It has already launched Paypass in the US and it also launched the first scheme in Europe with fast food chain McDonald's last month (MW April 12).
UK banking industry body APACS today confirms cross-industry plans to roll out the technology from September. It says there will then be a national upgrade in 2008.