Pounds, pennies and plastic

Dan Papworth-Smyth
Sep 19, 2016 · 3 min read

A week or so ago I tweeted an image I’d seen on LinkedIn of Breast Cancer Care’s new contactless donation points.

People got a little excited.

A really cool feature about them is the customisation of the donation amount. The £10 sticker is swappable with £5 and £1 versions, depending on the situation. The average contactless transaction is £8.60 in the UK so these fit well around that.

I’d heard through Twitter that these readers were being trialled just down the road from my office so I popped by over lunch.

Spotting a contactless reader in the wild, I go in for a closer look…

The contactless point was situated on a table in the centre of an exhibition at the Getty Images Gallery, just off Oxford Street. In a gallery the £10 ask, rather than £1 or £5, makes much more sense, but it will be interesting to find out how the test goes as that still feels quite high.

“Tap your card to support us. Your donation will help us be there for people through one of the most difficult challenges they will ever face — breast cancer.”

Breast Cancer Care concisely instruct you to donate using your card. Completely unattended, without anyone there to hold the reader and sell the cause, the small amount of text they fit onto the reader becomes even more important. Completely cable-free, the reader looks very slick and tidy. The handle at the back suggests they could be used hand-held too.


There is so much appetite in the charity sector to see more contactless readers in action as they are becoming commonplace. 1 in 8 card transactions were made using contactless in December 2015, and in June this year 218.9 million transactions were made using it. As consumers we use them all the time, buying a coffee, lunch, or hopping on public transport.

All the things we used to do with pounds and pennies we now do with plastic. Why should donations be any different?

Breast Cancer Care aren’t the first charity to test this technology. Last year I tested Cancer Research UK’s contactless window donation points in one of their shops.

Sue Ryder use them in their hospices around the country; Blue Cross strap them to dogs; Save The Children have trialled them; Comic Relief had been using them in cardboard cutouts; and Cancer Research UK used them again as part of this year’s World Cancer Day campaign around city centres.

Save The Children, Blue Cross and Sue Ryder’s readers in action

Contactless is here to stay. Is your charity on board?

Dan Papworth-Smyth

Written by

Head of Digital Engagement at @BCCare and @BreastCancerNow, formerly of @TeenageCancer. Sometimes I take photos too. Views are my own.

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