Barclaycard goes cone-tactless for summer

  • The self-serving ice-cream van allows customers to pay and pour their own ice-cream in less than 60 seconds with a touch of their contactless card or device 
  • ‘Contactless Cones’ was developed to speed up service for ice-cream lovers in response to 40 per cent saying they are put off by long queues 
  • The typically cash-only British icon has been given a modern makeover to celebrate the 10th anniversary of contactless payments in the UK
  • Ice-cream vans were voted in the top ten services Brits would like to see become contactless-enabled

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 

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






Mint Choc Chip






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.

For more information, please contact Chloe Wilkinson, Senior PR Manager, Barclaycard, on +44 (0) 20 3555 4036 or   

* The consumer research was conducted with Opinium, surveying 2,006 adults (18+). The research was carried out from 21st to 25th July 2017.

**Figure calculated as ice-cream fans purchase an ice cream 2.1 times a month in the summer months and have waited up to 7.7 minutes, so each ice-cream fan could potentially wait 16.4 minutes a month during the summer of months (May to September), equalling 82 minutes in total.

*** Data taken from the latest Barclaycard Contactless Spending Index, June 2017

**** Barclaycard “Time is Money” research, August 2017:

How the ‘Contactless Cones’ prototype works:

The contactless ice-cream machine prototype operates in the same way as other industrial catering ice-cream machines with the addition of Barclaycard’s contactless technology, touchscreen interface, and the integration of electronics which allows software to turn the supply of ice cream on/off following successful payment.

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2016 we processed over £250bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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