Pairing Church Collection Plates with Contactless Payment Acceptance

The Church of England has announced that it will conduct a pilot to make contactless payment acceptance available alongside traditional collection plates. Beginning next month, 40 churches will provide hand-held terminals to their congregations in an effort to increase donations. As other pilots have shown, when given the option to make a donation with a contactless credit card people tend to give three times more.

The pilot will run during a particularly busy period – covering both Harvest and Christmas – which usually attracts larger congregations. If all goes well, the Church of England – the largest church in the United Kingdom – will offer the system to every diocese from next year.

As a complement to traditional collection plates, the pilot will give churchgoers the option to make a contactless donation up to a value of £30 ($50 CAD). The system will give people the option to select one of three common donation amounts or enter an exact amount. Two methods will be trialed during the pilot: passing the contactless terminals alongside traditional collection plates; and setting up the payment terminal at a fixed location at the back of the church.

Earlier this year, a major trial in the UK of contactless collection boxes demonstrated that people will give more if they have the option to donate with a card. Organized by Barclaycard, the pilot involved eleven charities and ran for four months. One of the participating organizations, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) found that the average card donation during the trial was £3.07, more than three times higher than the average cash donation.

The move by the Church of England to trial contactless payment acceptance is in line with the rapid growth of contactless cards in the UK. In 2016, £25 billion was spent using contactless in the UK – more than twice the amount that was spent in the previous eight years combined. Payment UK has gone so far as to indicate that by late 2018 cash will no longer be the primary payment method for UK consumers.

By targeting millennials and people that carry less cash, leaders of the Church of England believe the introduction of contactless payment acceptance will particularly boost collections from events like weddings and christenings – often attended by people who aren’t regular churchgoers and do not carry cash for donations. The move will also help the church easily claim the Gift Aid equivalent on top of what people give. Gift Aid is an income tax relief in the UK, which increases the value of charitable donations by 25%.

But there are challenges involved in introducing contactless payment acceptance in churches. In practical terms, older churches with thick stone walls and those in rural locations with lower network coverage can be problematic for terminals that require mobile coverage. The cost involved in maintaining such systems can also be off putting for church leaders. Some have previously been discouraged by high transaction fees and significant monthly terminal rental costs.

Both of these issues could be solved by a bring-your-own-device solution like Mobeewave. As well as offering the option to use a Wi-Fi connection in addition to network coverage, this contactless payment solution enables people to accept contactless payment using just their smartphone – removing the need to rent a terminal.

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