The Co-operative Group is extending its contactless payment technology to almost 2,000 food stores across the UK.
Terminals, which allow customers to pay for goods worth £20 or less in seconds with a simple tap, will go live in 1,800 food stores nationwide today (Wednesday, 27 February) - with its entire estate of more than 2,800 food stores going live early next year.
The Group installed contactless payment terminals in almost 170 food stores within the M25 and in Manchester city centre in time for last year's Olympics, and has already got contactless payment facilities across its Pharmacy branch network.
The Co-operative Bank has also commenced its roll-out of contactless debit and credit cards with around 700,000 cards issued to date.
Andy Haywood, Chief Information Officer, The Co-operative Group, said: "Customer reaction to contactless payments has been very positive since we first introduced it into our food stores, so we are pleased to be rolling it out to an additional 1,800 stores today, with the entire food estate being enabled in early 2014.
"Contactless payments offer customers a much faster, yet secure, way of paying for low-value items, which results in an improved service and a more enjoyable in-store shopping experience."
Paulette Rowe, Managing Director of Barclaycard Global Payment Acceptance, which provides the point of sale technology for the programme, said: "We're extremely pleased to be able to support The Co-operative Food with their introduction of contactless payments. It's a payment technology that will benefit both their customers and their business by making it easier for quicker and secure payments to be made.
"The growth in contactless payments continues - both in the number of businesses that accept them and amongst cardholders, who are using contactless in ever greater numbers each month when they want to make quick and secure transactions for £20 or under."
Contactless payment technology currently allows customers to make purchases without the need to enter a PIN number or insert their card into a payment terminal, which speeds up the paying process.
Transactions are automatically added to their credit card bill or debited from their current account when customers hold their card over the contactless-enabled Chip and PIN terminal.
To reduce security risks, cardholders will occasionally be asked to enter their PIN number. The card providers will also refund any losses if a card is lost or stolen - provided the cardholder reports the loss at the earliest opportunity and does not act negligently or fraudulently.