A CHURCH in Rotherham has become the first church in the region to introduce a new digital collection box — dubbed the “immaculate connection”.
Cashless technology is being trialled in 20 churches nationwide and St Mary’s in Rawmarsh is leading the way.
The partnership between technology firm SumUp and the Church of England allows parishioners to make contactless payments from the comfort of their pews while using the portable device.
SumUp said churches involved in the trial had seen a 97 per cent rise in donations since the introduction of the high-tech collection box.
“It’s been quite well used when we have had Christmas fairs, particularly by the younger people,” said St Mary’s church warden Steve Blake.
“People have been surprised by the facility but not shocked as they seem to be everywhere now.”
The digital collection box allows parishioners to choose a donation amount (from four set by the church itself) and pay in seconds before passing the device on.
The average contactless donation is £5 and the technology, which can be used to take contactless payments, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, is capable of supporting 500 transactions without recharging.
Mr Blake (56), of Rawmarsh, said the traditional collection plate was still used at services but the new technology made it easier for people making bookings such as weddings to make payments, leaving the church with less money on-site.
“Not having cash left in the church or needing to run to the bank is great,” added Steve.
SumUp, the London-based payment technology company, has been working with the Church of England over the last year in order to offer 16,000 churches, cathedrals, and religious sites throughout England access to new card reader technology, with support from Visa.
After positive feedback from the churches involved in the trial, the firm is now planning to make the digital collection box available to churches throughout England and Wales.
Marc-Alexander Christ, co-founder of SumUp, said: “In 2019, we are going to see an even greater uptake in contactless payments as we transition towards a truly cashless society.
“This means that elements of everyday life will need to adapt, and the digital collection plate is an amazing example of tradition meeting technology.
“As congregations around the UK carry less and less cash, the donation process needs to be as easy as possible in order to harness people’s generosity.
“That’s why we believe this partnership will be an immaculate connection.”