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Vendors lining up to meet APACS challenge

We're all going contactless

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As London starts the migration towards country-wide acceptance of contactless payments, vendors are starting to pitch the equipment UK retailers are going to need to get the technology up and running.

Last month, APACS (the UK banks clearing house) announced that retailers in central London (City to Canary Wharf) would start accepting contactless payments for amounts less than £10 in September, with the rest of the country following suit in the new year.

APACS went on to predict that five million contactless cards (bearing the new logo) would be in circulation by the end of 2008, and 100,000 retailers would have upgraded their equipment to accept them.

MasterCard's PayPass and Visa's Contactless systems have both been deployed around the world, so the equipment and technology are pretty well known, but the UK system will ask for a PIN number every few transactions (at random), so readers will need a key-entry system.

Companies such as STS have been quick to launch their solutions; which in STS's case is intended to integrate with the Chip 'n PIN equipment the retailer already has deployed, which makes sense as retailers are inevitably going to shoulder much of the expense and will be looking to make the transition as cheaply as possible.

While the project has the support of several leading banks (including Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, HSBC, and Halifax) it's hard to find retailers, or consumer groups, endorsing it.

Presumably, the faster transaction time will appeal to some high-volume retailers, though it remains to be seen how many decide it's worth the money. ®

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