Global card issuer Visa has confirmed that it will launch contactless payment cards that use a 'wave and pay' system across the UK by the end of 2007.

The new service, which will be supported by all Visa UK member banks, will enable cardholders to purchase items up to the value of GBP10 by waving a secure contactless card over a card reader at participating outlets.

The new system is expected to help reduce transaction time, cutting queue times at checkouts.

With over 75% of all cash payments being less than GBP10, the introduction of contactless payments will play a major role in encouraging the use of cards over cash for low-value transactions, said Sandra Alzetta, Visa Europe senior vice president of consumer market development. In addition, the decision to go live in less than a year supports our vision for a cashless Olympic Games in London in 2012.

Contactless payments are particularly suited to retail environments such as fast food outlets, coffee shops and pubs, all of which tend to have a high cash turnover and where rapid checkout times are desirable.

Initially, the service will be introduced to London, before being rolled out to the rest of the UK in due course.