Post Office going tap-cash in 2012

Jingle of tills gradually falls silent across the land

The UK's network of 12,000 Post Offices will start accepting contactless payment cards and thus NFC phones by October next year, making it the largest retailer to yet do so.

More than 30,000 contactless terminals will be installed to accept pay-by-tap transactions of up to the industry limit of £15. Those account for 60 per cent of the business done at the Post Office window according to Michael Birchall, payment product manager for the Post Office, who has been telling NFC Times about the project.

NFC Times notes that the previous contender for biggest deployment was Transport for London, which is planning to deploy 20,000 terminals next year to collect travel fares. Those two projects alone will nearly double the number of contactless points of sale in the UK, which currently stands at around 60,000.

Those contactless points will accept proximity cards: 15 million of which have already been issued (you might already be carrying one, check for the logo), as well as pay-by-tap telephones such as the Orange Quick Tap.

Contactless functionality is now built into most point-of-sale terminals these days, and the upgrade seems to be part of the normal equipment replacement cycle (we've asked for more details), but it is indicative of the way the industry is solving the chicken-and-egg problem with proximity payments.

With contactless being a standard feature NFC terminals will be popping up everywhere, and the cards are already in the pockets of consumers. Now the challenge is to get punters to use them. ®

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