A Catholic church in Paris, France has introduced a contactless payment system to allow congregants to donate money using their bank cards.
According to the Associated Press, the city's archdiocese has announced on Thursday that it will introduce the contactless collection plates during Sunday's mass at Saint Francois de Molitor, a church located in an upscale and conservative Paris neighborhood.
Five collection baskets, which have a traditional appearance but equipped with a smartphone and contactless payment terminal, will be passed around during the service. Worshippers will be allowed to choose the amount they want to donate — from 2 to 10 euros ($2.4 to $12.2) — and their payment will be processed in "one second."
The archdiocese maintained that the new system "remains extremely close" to the traditional approach of collecting donations and noted that the parishioners will still be able to use cash.
While the church collections have stagnated in recent years, averaging at €3 (US$3.67) per donation, the diocese insisted that the decision was not about increasing the Sunday Mass collections.
"The experiment is not to increase the amount of donations but to anticipate the future, when people don't carry money anymore, even for their baguette. It amuses me, it's fun. Our parishioners are receptive of the novelty," Fr. Didier Duverne, the parish priest, said, as reported by The Telegraph.
The archdiocese explained that 79 percent of its resources come from donations, with most of it being spent on upkeep costs such as heating and electricity.
"Mass collection represents 14 percent of that contribution. That's about 98 euros on average, per year and per faithful," it said in a statement, adding that the new system was meant to "anticipate the gradual disappearance of cash money."
Christophe Rousselot, who serves as the diocese's director of financial resources development, contended that the church "has no reason not to get with the times."
The introduction of the contactless collection plates was not the French Catholic Church's first attempt to keep up with new technologies.
Since 2016, parishes across 28 dioceses in France have been donating money through a smartphone application called "La Quete," which translates as "The Collection."
About 4,000 donations, averaging at €4.71 (US$5.76), have been made across eight Paris parishes where the application has been tested in the last 14 months.
"The Church is committed to supporting everyone in the new ways of life and consumption," the Archdiocese of Paris said. "The dematerialization of the means of payment is also part of the challenges the Church has to take up. Whether through a connected basket, with contactless payment, or through a smartphone app," it added.
The Catholic church in London also introduced contactless collection plates last October as officials acknowledged the move towards a cashless society.
In June 2017, some parishes belonging to the Church of England also started using handheld devices to take card donations from worshippers.