by Jonathan Rothwell

[LINK] Contactless payments and a tin-foil wallet

Paul Battley on his first experience of using contactless card payments.

She takes the card and waves it in the general direction of something on the till. Something beeps. A till printer cranks into action.

I wait expectantly for my receipt.

— Oh, you don’t get a receipt with these.

She shows me her printout with the correct amount to reassure me, but I’m still confused and a little terrified.

I’ve yet to use contactless payments outside the Oyster system, and personally speaking I’ve never had a problem with that. (As far as I’m concerned, it’s very simple—touch in and touch out, listen for the beep, and you’ll be charged the correct fare.)

I suppose what would alarm me about this situation is having the lady behind the counter take my card off me. The only time you have to do that with Oyster is at the ticket office, on a ferry or on an open-platform bus without card readers. I suspect I would prefer the set-up in most fast food restaurants a lot better: there, the contactless reader tends to be on the counter next to the smartcard reader, allowing you to touch your card against the reader. No handing it over to someone who could skim it.

One of my cards is up for renewal this year, so I expect I’ll have my first contactless experience before too much longer. I can’t see myself dumping my Oyster for a Visa card or my mobile phone, though: like Paul, I don’t like the idea of money being that easy to spend.