MasterCard has officially launched its contactless 'tap and go' payments system, PayPass, in the UK with an initial roll out in London's financial district.
To mark the launch of PayPass in London, MasterCard covered the city's Millennium Bridge with giant images of notes and coins.
From today customers will be able to use PayPass cards to pay for low value purchases under £10 at outlets in the City and Canary Wharf, including McDonalds, Eat, Coffee Republic, Yo!Sushi, Krispy Kreme, Books Etc, Threshers and the Science Museum.
John Bushby, general manager, MasterCard Northern Europe, says: "Whether it's buying a newspaper in the morning, a sandwich at lunchtime or a cinema ticket in the evening, the option to 'tap and go' will make shopping for everyday purchases much simpler for everyone."
To make a purchase customers tap their cards on a specially-equipped terminal that utilises a radio frequency chip to complete the transaction. Payment details are communicated to the terminal and then processed through the MasterCard network for clearing and settlement.
The contactless feature can be added to any MasterCard credit, debit, pre-paid card or Maestro debit card.
Last week Royal Bank of Scotland officially launched its contactless card payment scheme - which features the PayPass technology - at a McDonald's drive-thru in London.
Barclaycard is set to introduce its contactless three-in-one card - which features Visa's 'wave and pay' contactless payment technology, Oyster travel card functionality and a standard chip and PIN payment system - next week.
Citi, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and payment processor Euroconex Technologies are also expected to introduce the technology later this year.
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.