The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has officially launched its contactless card payment scheme in the UK, with the Formula 1 AT&T Williams team making the first over-the-air transaction at a McDonald's drive-thru in London.
The RBS-sponsored AT&T Williams team used a debit card featuring MasterCard's PayPass technology to pay for their order at the McDonald's in Billingsgate.
Bank staff have been trialing the contactless system at RBS's offices in Edinburgh and London since June 2006.
Iain Clink, MD, cards and direct finance, RBS, says: "People love the convenience and speed of the card as well as the freedom from worrying about whether they have enough change for everyday things like morning coffee, a newspaper or a sandwich at lunchtime. Retailers like contactless cards too because they make paying faster which means faster moving queues and happier customers."
McDonald's says a contactless payment facility will be available in 12 London restaurants by the beginning of October. RBS says it has also signed up other retailers, including Oddbins, as well as cafes, delis, pharmacies, bars and sandwich shops in London to its contactless scheme.
The new technology will enable customers to use contactless cards to make cash-free low-values transactions of £10 or under. Customers will be able to pay for purchases by brandishing their upgraded card at secure readers in participating retailers, outlets and vending machines.
RBS says it will start issuing several hundred thousand contactless debit and credit cards to customers who live or work in the London roll-out area in November.
RBS is one of a number of banks participating in the introduction of contactless payment technology in London this autumn.
Last month Barclaycard said its contactless three-in-one card, OnePulse, will be accepted at 1000 retail outlets when it is launched in London in September. The card features a standard chip and PIN payment system, Oyster pre-paid travel card functionality and Visa's 'wave and pay' contactless payment technology.
Citi, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and payment processor Euroconex Technologies are also expected to introduce the technology later this year.
After an initial launch in select areas of London this autumn, the contactless initiative will expand across the capital city and will be followed by a gradual national upgrade in 2008.
UK payments association Apacs estimates that over five million contactless cards will have been issued by the end of 2008 and that they will be accepted in at least 100,000 merchants across the country.