New products

Brother, can you spare a swipe? Contactless card reading guitar unveiled

Tyler Metzger

Have you ever had the strong urge to give your hard-earned money to someone strumming “Dust in the Wind” out of key at a vacant intersection? Well, neither have I. But London-based issuer Barclays hopes our apprehension will disappear with its new approach to street charity: a wireless, touchless, credit card accepting guitar.

Brother, can you spare a swipe? Contactless card reading guitar unveiled

The financial institution unveiled the instrument Thursday, Aug. 26, in London during a publicity stunt promoting its “contactless technology.” People passing by a street musician — known as a “busker” — were handed prepaid cards loaded with £5 and were instructed to wave it near the head of the guitar. The money was then taken off the card and donated to the Help a London Child charity.

Contactless cards aren’t exclusive to Barclays’s, but they all work the same: By using radio-frequency identification, or RFID. The card data is stored in a chip inside the plastic and is transmitted using short-range electromagnetic waves emitted by the contactless-card reader. Tollbooths, garage door openers and workplace ID fobs are a few devices that use RFID technology today.

Andy Harris, head of current accounts for Barclays, said the guitar-turned-card-reader demonstrates how quick and easy contactless payments can be. “If a busker can go contactless, then anyone can,” he said.

Seriously? I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know many street musicians that are familiar with electrical engineering and merchant account services. I mean, if someone is having trouble with a C chord, I don’t think giving them a wireless card reader is going to do them any good. Plus, how can someone begging for money accept cards? It’s like asking for a $20 in an Armani suit. Plus, the interchange fees alone would have to make it not worth the trouble.

I know, I know. It’s just a demonstration, and the money went to charity. Great. I just think this is a silly example of some out-of-touch suits trying to market toward what they consider a “hip crowd.” I mean, what’s next? Skinny jeans for babies that accept credit cards?

Brother, can you spare a swipe? Contactless card reading guitar unveiled

See related: ‘Contactless’ credit cards spark concerns for data privacy, Contactless credit cards ‘floundering’, Cell phone + contactless credit card = Yak, wave, buy

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • Digital Security Company

    Secure authentication for access to on-line services, convenient physical access control, security and ease of making payments have become essential functional requirements in today’s world.And apart from that Contactless payment applications are gaining momentum as new contactless devices are being introduced like Secure Contactless Tokens, NFC Stickers etc.
    Nice Information