Contactless payment hits Woolworths


National retailer Woolworths this afternoon revealed plans to roll out the incoming generation of contactless payment facilities across all of its brands, providing yet another validation of the technology which has already been adopted by several major banks.

The rollout will allow customers of the company’s various brands — Woolworths, Big W, Dick Smith, Tandy, BWS, Dan Murphy’s and more — to use cards equipped with VISA’s payWave technology to make payments by waving their cards at a terminal in stores, rather than waiting for a PIN or signature. The technology allows for amounts up to $100 to be transferred.

“We know how much our customers love to embrace new technologies and services that help make their life a little bit easier,” the company’s head of group financial services Dhun Karai said in a statement issued this afternoon. “They have well and truly adapted to self-service checkouts and other in-store innovations, and we hope contactless payment will be just as popular.”

The company already has contactless payment facilities at the petrol stations it operates in cooperation with Caltex, courtesy of its ‘e-pump’ technology, while arch-rival Coles is also examining a wider rollout of the technology after conducting a limited trial.

A number of major Australian banks — such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank — are already far down the path of offering contactless functionality via merchant terminals in retail outlets around the nation.

In addition, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group is pushing the technology even further — conducting a trial of a contactless payments system using Apple iPhones. The onset of near-field communications devices in mobile phones — particularly those based on the Android platform — is also expected to push the technology further in the coming years.

“Consumers love the convenience of being able to pay with a contactless card, and we are delighted that our cardholders will soon be able to benefit from the speed and security of Visa payWave at one of Australia’s leading retailers,” said Visa’s Australian country manager Vipin Kalra in Woolworths’ statement. “This move demonstrates Woolworths’ commitment to payment innovation.”

Image credit: Håkan Dahlström, Creative Commons


  1. Can someone explain how this works? What’s to stop someone building a fake receiver and then walking around a crowded place and holding it near everyone’s wallets?

    Generally intrigued into how they’ve done it.

  2. This technology has always struck me as a more of a gimmick than a useful payment method. Because of the easily replicatable nature of RFID tags allowing a large amount to be accessed via the card is a fools errand.

    I would much rather have the RFID be attached to a limited exposure account (either by design or by user choice) and opt-out of the technology for the current account. I personally don’t think limiting it to $100 is enough, because that is $100 on a per transaction basis.

    As always, it comes down to, watch your money and make sure you can account for every single transaction.

    • That’s just neglience from KMart. There is no way to opt out of such a policy, with PayWave you can request from your bank a non-PayWave enabled card.

      • Yeah I went and bought something from kmart today, that was $15, using their self checkout machines, put my direct debit card in, selected credit card and it then said transaction complete, was o_O cause it didn’t ask for my pin. This is not a good system, I do not want someone to nick my card and be able to make a bunch of micro transactions like this

  3. no signature is different to RFID.

    At least with the no signature, the card needs to be presented and swiped. Presumably if no signature or PIN is taken, the onus is on the merchant to prove its a legitimate transaction if there is a dispute.

  4. Are the Visa payWave and Mastercard PayPass systems interoperable? If they are, it appears that neither Visa or Mastercard are doing anything to educate consumers about it. If they are not, it looks like we have yet another format war on our hands, and one which isn’t likely improve adoption of either system by consumers or merchants because unlike BluRay vs HD-DVD, or XBox vs PlayStation, I don’t think anyone outside of the payments industry really gives a damn…

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