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Centra, Ireland’s leading network of convenience stores, has announced that they will become the first Irish retailer to embrace contactless payments, with nearly one million new contactless enabled Visa Debit cards due to be issued to Irish consumers from late 2011. The ‘contactless’ technology will allow customers to purchase items of €15 or under in less than a second, by simply waving their card in front of the card terminal to make payment.

The new technology will see Centra customers able to take advantage of shorter queues and not have to find change in their pockets, due to the prospect of faster transactions because of contactless payments. Contactless payments will be accepted in selected stores in late 2011, before being rolled out across the rest of Centra’s network of 464 stores in 2012.

Commenting on the announcement, Tara Clifford, Centra Marketing Manager, said, “With the launch of contactless payments, paying for your cup of coffee in the morning or a sandwich for lunch will be easier and faster than ever. Centra is delighted to be leading the introduction of contactless payment technology in the Irish market.  As the number one convenience store in Ireland, we are committed to investing in innovation which will ensure we continue to provide the best service to our loyal customers.

Lewis Nolan, VP, Market Development, Mobile and Contactless at Visa Europe, said, “It is fantastic to announce Centra as our first retail partner for the launch of contactless payments in Ireland later this year.  Irish consumers and retailers will now also see the significant benefits that contactless payments bring in terms of speed, convenience and security. Contactless has already taken off across Europe, with 20 million cards currently in use by consumers.

Ireland has the highest usage of ATMs in Europe and in 2010 consumers withdrew in the region of €5,000 per capita from ATMs. The move towards contactless is aligned to the Government’s National Payments Plan to help towards reducing cash and paper based transactions and promote electronic transactions.

Contactless payment is a feature that can be incorporated onto debit and credit cards that allows customers to pay for everyday items up to a value of €15 at point-of-sale, simply by holding their card or phone over a wireless reader or screen without the need to enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Transactions take place in less than a second giving retailers and consumers speed and convenience without the need of handling cash. As with all payment devices, contactless cards have a number of security features as well as the €15 payment limit on single transactions.

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