By Felicity Anderson

The Church of England is converting to contactless payment methods by introducing electronic transactions through cards, text message or Apple and Google pay, according to the BBC.

Churchgoers will no longer be required to pay in cash for events, such as christenings, weddings and church festivals and can now make digital donations, at over 16,000 churches throughout the country.

The move, designed to make donating quicker and easier, while attracting younger people who are increasingly choosing digital payment methods over carrying cash, follows a trial of contactless payments in around 40 churches last year.

“We want all generations to be able to make the most of their place of worship,” the National Stewardship Officer of the Church of England John Preston told the BBC.

“Installing this technology does mean that one-off fees can be done via card, as can making one-off donations,” he added.

According to figures from the Guardian, the Church of England, receives about £580m a year in donations, although most are from standing orders and fees rather than cash donations given in church.

Church of England converting to contactless payment methods

The newspaper claims that in church, portable card readers will be used to take payments from contactless bank cards, chip and pin, Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Church volunteers will be required to operate the card readers and will input transactions, ‘most likely at the start or end of a service or event.’

Popular mobile payment firms SumUp and iZettle will provide these technology services.

What about contactless collections?

For now, donations to the collection plate will remain in cash, although contactless collections trials are ongoing, and it’s hoped that they will be introduced later in the year.

The BBC notes, however, that the traditional ways of taking the collection, by passing a plate or bag around the congregation, is actually thought to be quicker and more efficient than modern technology.

A church spokesperson reportedly said that people fishing around for a card could slow the process down.

“Part of the 21st century,”

Last month Margaret Cave, the vicar of Christ Church in East Dulwich, south London, who was taking part in the six-month trial, told the Guardian that she would like a totally cash-free church due to the convenience and security of card payments.

“It’s nice just to feel part of the 21st century. When a young couple come in to discuss their marriage banns, which cost £43, I no longer have to send them over the road to the cashpoint,” she said.

“Also, if people are giving money by card, there’s no question that any of it is going to go missing.”

The rise of mobile payments

Figures from eMarketer, released at the beginning of the year, estimate that 22 percent of those with smartphones will be using their phone to pay by the end of 2018, up from just 13 percent in 2016 and the equivalent of 9.2m people.

Citing ‘convenience’ as the allure of mobile payments among UK smartphone users, it revealed that,  ‘about four in 10 respondents said they liked using mobile payments as a backup for payment cards and cash, while 35 percent said they chose mobile payment platforms for their convenience.’