Over the last two weeks banks and credit card providers have been lining up to provide a new form of cashless payment card.
Royal Bank of Scotland got the ball rolling with a Williams Formula 1 racing car driving into a McDonald's restaurant in the City of London to pick up a burger and pay by swiping a card over a reader, in much the same way as London commuters use their Oyster cards.
Barclaycard has since launched its OnePulse card, followed by the MasterCard's PayPass. All the cards offer users the ability to swipe their cards across a reader to make a payment, without using a PIN for purchases under £10.
The card providers aim to start the roll-out the system of payment across the country from London later this year. Barclaycard has signed up over 1,000 retail outlets to its OneTouch system focusing on coffee shows and smaller outlets where small purchases are made. RBS and MasterCard have also made similar moves to recruit retailers in London and further afield as the system is gradually delivered across the country.
RBS staff in Edinburgh and London have been trialling the system for the last year. From early November, RBS will issue several hundred thousand contactless debit to customers in London and the roll-out area.
Iain Clink, RBS managing director of cards and direct finance, said: "Having been the first in Europe to trial contactless cards means we know that everyone wins with this new way to pay.
"People love the convenience and speed of the card as well as the freedom from worrying about whether they have enough change for everyday things like morning coffee, a newspaper or a sandwich at lunchtime. Retailers like contactless cards too because they make paying faster which means faster moving queues and happier customers."
The lack of PIN has raised concerns in some quarters about the security of the swipe cards, although issuers have claimed that only smaller purchases can be made, limiting losses from fraud, and as money on lost or stolen cards can be returned the cards are safer than the cash alternative.