Following the national trial of contactless card readers which was undertaken last year, the Parish Buying service has developed contracts with two companies: SumUp and iZettle; parishes within the Church of England and the Church in Wales are now able to buy card readers at a discount through the Parish Buying website and use them with specially negotiated low transaction rates. Aspects of the new scheme are reviewed below.
The rationale behind the card reader scheme is:
“As many people no longer carry cash it’s becoming increasingly important to provide other ways for people to give. One solution is getting a card reader for your church, which works alongside a smart phone or tablet.
“Whether it’s using the Chip and PIN function or the tap of a contactless card, a card reader enables a modern way for people to pay for: wedding fees; church hall hire; concert tickets; donations; church weekends away; and ‘even teas and coffees”.
Card Reader basics
Information about the equipment needed and the fees involved is included in the FAQs produced by Parish Resources, which also includes some helpful hints. With regard to the equipment to support card readers, the terminal supplied to the church with needs to be connected by Bluetooth to a mobile phone (iPhone or Android) or tablet (iPad or Android), for which an App will need to be downloaded.
The card reader can connect to several people’s phones but only one at a time; however, a second or third (or more) card reader can be used with the same account and at the same time, although each card-reader must be linked to a separate phone (iPhone or Android) or Tablet device. The terminals will not work unless they can connect to the internet when the payment is being processed, and consequently, a reliable Wi-Fi or 3G (or better) signal is essential.
Some legislative issues
In response to the question “Do I need anyone’s approval?”, the FAQs state: “You should seek authority by a resolution from the PCC or equivalent, just as you would for opening a bank account”. With regard to satisfying the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, the PCC resolution is clearly the first step, following which there are two issues to address: the introduction of the card reader into the church; and the associated signage. With regard to the former, some dioceses might consider that this is best achieved by issuing a “general approval” for their use throughout the diocese under S18C (1) Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991 and r3.4 Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015, as adopted by the Diocese of Leeds in relation to the installation of defibrillators.
On the issue of signage, the FAQs observe “Churches can be vast spaces. They’re often tall and are sometimes dark buildings, and (you hope) there is often a crowd. Tall signs and tables which can be purchased for a modest cost will help people see where you are”. With regard to signage, List A within the Schedule to the FJR includes
“A5. Church contents: (4)(c) The introduction, removal or disposal of free-standing noticeboards, providing no article of historic or artistic interest is removed or disposed of”.
and as such, their installation may be undertaken without a faculty and without the need for consultation. The same cannot be said for the “Como Poseur table. £84 (from various suppliers)”, identified in the FAQs.
The FAQs note “Under the second Payment Services Directive [known as PSD2], it has been illegal since 13 January 2018 to pass the fee on to people using cards to pay. Three practical aspects of Gift Aid are considered:
Q. If a donation is given by card, what amount do we claim Gift Aid on?
A. You should claim on the total amount given. You don’t need to deduct the processing fee.
Q. How do we claim Gift Aid?
A. Although there may be developments in due course, Gift Aid needs to be dealt with as though you were receiving cash, perhaps using envelopes marked “CARD”, and then entered into your declaration as usual.
Q. What about Gift Aid on Contactless Donations?
Contactless donations of £20 or less can be included in your Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) allowance of £8,000 a year.
Parish Buying intends to make available an online forum for churches to share successes (and failures), to ask questions and to offer advice.