15 November 2016, The Tablet

Churches experiment with encouraging congregation to get their phones out when the collection plates come around

Two Australian parishes are claiming a world first in offering a credit card option during the Collection

While most modern churches have the ability to take payment by a credit or debit card these days for donations, literature and some of the better known tourist traps have experimented with "donation stations" to encourage visitors to contribute.

But two parishes in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn claim to have gone one better than that by trialling what they say is a world first in allowing worshippers to use their mobile phones to make an offering when the collection plate is handed around. Although churches across the world have experimented with different forms of giving: via text messages with the JustTextGiving website to digital collection methods that are more similar to the more traditional methods of regularly donating by filling out a standing order.

Parishioners at Mary Help of Christians, in Woden South, and St Gregory’s Mission, Queanbeyan, will instead be using the payment app QKR!, which was developed by Mastercard to allow any card with the its logo to accept payment through the owner's smartphone. Massgoers in the two parishes can now pay their weekend Mass collection contributions electronically before, after and, technically, during the Service. The app was released in Australia in 2011 and has been adopted by schools to make payments for all manner of things - from school dinners to school trips - through the app.

Available for the iPhone, iPad, and any device that runs on the android system. 

Canberra and Goulburn's Catholic Development Fund is behind the trial in partnership with MasterCard and Commonwealth Bank Australia. The Archdiocese has produced a step-by-step guide for parishioners on how to use QKR!, as well as a new ‘Giving’ brochure.

Fr Richard Thompson, Parish Priest of Woden South, told the archdiocesan paper Catholic Voice that the app had attracted very positive responses from parishioners since the trial began in late October.

“It is very important that we use the right language and that we support people in the right manner when we are introducing a new product like this," he said. “I will speak to many of my brother priests as to how we should best go about informing our parishioners in setting up and using the app. I include those with ‘technophobia’.

“We also want to make it very clear that QKR! is not replacing the collection bags. The collection bags and QKR! as I see it will co-exist for quite some time yet, so people have nothing to worry about whatsoever.”

PICTURE - Often the scourge of church, mobile phones may have a legitimate use now thanks to the app that takes payments for the collection plate/bag. In some cultures use of mobile phones in church is pervasive, like the Philippines where the cabinet secretary at the time Ricardo Saludo was caught on camera checking out his phone while his boss in 2008  




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