Contactless reader in church

Churches swap out collection plate for contactless payments

Image credit: Chris Marsh/SumUp/PA Wire

The Church of England (COE) is experimenting with introducing contactless payment terminals, bringing the option for contactless payments to every diocese.

This could make it faster and easier for worshippers to donate in an increasingly cashless world, as well as ensuring that no donations go missing before being cashed in by the church. The Church said that it had been considering how to update how congregations – as well as visitors to weddings, funerals, church fetes, concerts and other events – make their donations of an estimated £580m every year.

“There is a clear need for our parishes to introduce card and contactless facilities and we are excited to make this available,” said John Preston, the COE’s national stewardship officer. “How we pay for things is changing fast, especially for younger churchgoers who no longer carry cash, and we want all generations to be able to make the most of their place of worship.”

The payment terminals were first tested in a 40-church trial before plans were made to roll the readers out across the country.

Contactless payment terminals will become available in more than 16,000 churches, cathedrals and religious sites. These readers – run by UK-based fintech company SumUp – will accept contactless cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and traditional chip and pin payments.

In order to complete payments, each reader will require a ‘merchant’ (probably a church volunteer) to input each transaction; this could result in churchgoers passing and paying at a manned reader as they enter or leave a service. The readers are capable of processing 500 transactions before they need recharging.

It is expected that the bulk of COE donations will continue to come from standing orders.

“Our parishioners can occasionally find themselves strapped for physical cash, so it’s fantastic to be able to offer an alternative which is quick and convenient,” said Alison Davie, church secretary at St George’s Church Hub in Stamford, Lincolnshire. “We hope this is a step forward for St George’s and many other churches like it, in staying ahead in the modern era.”

The Catholic Church in the UK is also taking tentative steps into the digital age, allowing worshippers to donate by text in some parishes in the Diocese of Westminster, enabling credit and debit card donations at some cathedrals and considering contactless donations at Catholic churches.

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