HSBC is to join Barclays Bank by introducing contactless technology as a standard feature on all new debit cards in circulation.
HSBC says it will begin the conversion to contactless technology this month, replacing all debit cards that are due to expire from May 2012 with the new chips. Users will be able to use the card to pay for items up to the value of £15 with just a single tap.' This will increase to £20 from 01 June 2012.
Barnaby Jenkins, head of cards for HSBC, says: "Contactless technology is an efficient and secure way for customers to pay for goods, with a clear time saving advantage over alternative forms of payment. By starting to issue cards now customers will be able to take advantage of the contactless payment pads that are being installed in Olympic venues."
Visa is forecasting the number of contactless cards in circulation in the UK to reach 30 million by the end of the year, boosted by the roll-out of tap-and-go terminals at big ticket retailers and set-piece showcases such as the Olympics.
According to Visa, the number of contactless point-of-sale terminals in the UK will rise by 50% to 150,000 this year. Supermarket giant Asda is the most recent large retailer to commit to the technology, joining the likes of Waitrose, McDonalds, Boots, WH Smith and Tesco.
Meanwhile, Transport for London is currently upgrading all Oyster card readers across the capital to work at the touch of a bank-issued card or a handset. The new system is expected to be up and running on all of London's 8000 buses by the end of the year, with the Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground network following in 2013.
Other banks are following suit. Lloyds started issuing contactless cards around the London area in May last year. Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America's card unit MBNA and Virgin Money have also committed to rolling out the technology.