Church of England rolls out payment terminals for cashless donations in its 16,000 sites

The Church of England is trying to keep up with digital innovations as it rolls out payment terminals at over 16,000 sites to accept cashless or contactless donations.

(REUTERS/Tim Wimborne)The Church of England has begun accepting contactless or cashless donations and payments.

The state church originally tested the terminals at 40 Anglican institutions for more than six months and announced on Tuesday that it will soon extend the service to its other religious establishments as it aims to make donations convenient and faster. Members of the church could also donate via text messaging services, Apple Pay and Google Pay with this digital improvement. The contactless payment system will also apply for church fees and bookings during christenings, weddings and other events.

"How we pay for things is changing fast, especially for younger church-goers who no longer carry cash," stewardship officer John Preston said. "We want all generations to be able to make the most of their place of worship," he added.

Contactless and cardless payment systems became the preferred mode of payment for half of the British population in 2016. Since then, the Church of England has been exploring ways to take advantage of modern technology and tapped the mobile point-of-sale companies SumUp and iZettle as its partners.

While there are virtual terminals at the church sites, a staff member will be manning the transactions or helping parishioners input their donations. The Church of England collects an estimated $810 million (£580 million) yearly for donations. Parishioners said they welcome the innovation since digital transactions can be properly traced and accounted for.

Meanwhile, even the Catholic Church in the U.K. might shift to contactless donations as well, as Britain adapts to a cashless society. Some sites have started accepting donations via credit card, debit card or mobile phones using specific codes.

"Now as we move into more of a cashless society, we want to make it easier for parishioners as well as visitors," a spokesperson from the Diocese of Westminster said, according to Tablet. "The diocese is considering contactless collections as one of a number of possible options for the future," the spokesperson also mentioned.