Barclaycard pilots ‘Contactless Cones’ in response to melt-downs over ice-cream queues


Barclaycard today announces it is piloting ‘Contactless Cones’ – a refreshing solution to reduce long queues at ice-cream vans. The self-serve ice-cream van pilot will dramatically reduce the average wait time of almost eight minutes by introducing contactless technology to a typically cash-only service.  With ‘touch and go’ payments shaving 15 seconds off each cash transaction, Contactless Cones will let customers spend less time queuing and more time enjoying their summer treats.

How ‘Contactless Cones’ works:

  1. Select: choose your ice-cream via the ‘Contactless Cones’ touchscreen
  2. Spend: touch your contactless card or device at the base of the machine
  3. Swirl: fill your cone and enjoy

Barclaycard trials contactless self-serve ice-cream van to celebrate the 10th anniversary of contactless payments

The upgraded van consists of two separate queues, allowing ice-cream fans who want a simple vanilla cone to pay and pour their own ice-cream in less than 60 seconds, freeing up the vendor to take orders simultaneously for ice-lollies and other snacks or drinks.

Research reveals just how popular ice-cream vans are with Brits as 65 per cent say they make a purchase over the summer, with almost a third (32 per cent) buying from an ice-cream van at least once a month. Yet with an average wait-time of 7 minutes and 42 seconds per visit, ice-cream fans could potentially be wasting almost an hour and a half (82 minutes) in queues over the summer season**.

Almost half of ice-cream lovers (40 per cent) report becoming frustrated by long wait times at ice-cream vans and over a quarter (26 per cent) have given the queue the cold shoulder altogether, opting to forego their frozen fancy – meaning merchants who serve the popular treats could be missing out on lucrative sales during their busiest time of the year.

The demand for faster service

Brits are increasingly looking for quicker and easier ways to buy goods and services, as shown by Barclaycard’s Contactless Spending Index which reveals that ‘touch and go’ spending has leapt by 34 per cent since the start of 2017. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that ‘ice-cream vans’ are one of the top ten services the nation would like to see become contactless-enabled, with almost a third of ice-cream fans (32 per cent) wanting to pay via ‘touch and go’ technology.

Although Barclaycard launched contactless payments in the UK 10 years ago in September 2007, half of retailers are yet to adopt the technology. Yet such is the demand for ‘touch and go’ that businesses who accept contactless report seeing the number of sales they process rise by an average of 30 per cent each day.

The research also settled the age-old debate of Britain’s favourite ice-cream favour. Scooping the accolade in the top spot was Vanilla followed by Mint Choc Chip and then Chocolate, showing that while demand to pay in newer ways is becoming more popular, traditional ice-cream choices are still flavour of the month.

Brits’ top five ice-cream flavours

Rank Flavour
1 Vanilla
2 Mint Choc Chip
3 Chocolate
4 Strawberry
5 Salted Caramel

Tami Hargreaves, director of innovation and partnerships at Barclaycard Mobile Payments, said: “Ice-cream vans have long been a real staple of British summertime and to mark the 10th anniversary of introducing contactless to the UK, we wanted to celebrate this popular tradition with a prototype that gives it a modern makeover. ‘Touch and go’ payments are continuing to soar in popularity, so that’s why we developed ‘Contactless Cones’ – where the ice-cream doesn’t melt away but the long queues do!”

Vince Bianco, owner and ice-cream Vendor, One Coronetto, said: “I was delighted to partner with Barclaycard on the ‘Contactless Cones’ trial to see how contactless technology could help me serve even more ice-cream fans over the busy summer months. I am always looking for innovative ways to improve my business and anything that allows me to serve double the number of happy customers and reduce the queuing time is a ‘win’ for me.”

The prototype van was tested earlier this week with ice-cream van merchant, One Coronetto, at Riverside Slice, South Bank, London, upgrading a ‘191P Classic’ Carpigiani ice-cream machine within the van. Full photography and videography is available on request.