Church of Scotland to introduce ‘contactless’ collection plates

Portable card readers will be set up in churches which can accept both contactless and chip-and-pin payments as the Church seeks to tap into modern ones of payment. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Portable card readers will be set up in churches which can accept both contactless and chip-and-pin payments as the Church seeks to tap into modern ones of payment. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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THE Church of Scotland is to bring the collection plate into the digital age by introducing contactless payment terminals in kirks across the country.

Portable card readers will be set up in churches which can accept both contactless and chip-and-pin payments as the Church seeks to tap into modern ones of payment.

Visitors will be able to use the readers to pay for events including weddings, christenings and church fêtes, booking spaces and for one-off donations.

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The decision follows a similar move by the Church of England who are introducing the devices into its buildings this week following a successful trial. The Catholic Church in Scotland has also said it is considering following suit.

Anne Macintosh, General Treasurer of the Church of Scotland, said trials on contactless payment methods are due to be held in Scotland.

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She said: “We work with Church of England colleagues in areas of shared interest and were very excited to hear of the success of their trial.

“Our own Stewardship Team has been looking at this and we have identified a number of churches with a view to piloting contactless payment terminals in the near future.

“We envisage that these could be used for many purposes including retiring collections and donations by visitors to our historic churches and cathedrals.”

She added: “Regular giving to our congregations is largely made by direct debit which is hugely important.

“But we know that there are many occasions when special collections are held or people would like to give spontaneously but just don’t carry much cash.

“We think there is huge potential for congregations here, not only to raise extra income, but to show that the Church is moving with the times.”

Contactless technology allows consumers to make payments simply by waving their debit or credit card, smartphone or other smart device in front of a payment reader thanks to an inbuilt chip that emits radio waves.

The terminal picks up the signal and processes the payment through radio frequency identification technology.

In 2016, contributions from Church of Scotland worshippers - including donations, fundraising and gift aid tax recovery - was around £70 million.

Last year the Kirk appointed former Moderator Very Rev Albert Bogle as its first digital minister and launched online services for those who may never set foot in a “real world” church.

It is also considering online baptism as clergy seek new ways to address the needs of worshippers in a digital age.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “While Catholic parishes do not use payment terminals at present, there is interest in the idea in some dioceses and they may be considered in future.”