Barclays will begin issuing debit cards with contactless payment technology, and predicts that more than 3 million consumers will be using them by the end of the year.

The bank says that most cards it issues or reissues from March will be able to make contactless payments.

The move which makes it the first bank to apply the technology to its Visa debit cards in the UK.

Like the contactless credit cards already issued by Barclaycard, the debit cards allow transactions of£10 or less to be paid for by holding the card up to a special reader, without the need to enter a PIN or insert the card into a terminal.

The cards will still have chip and PIN which will be used for other purchases and for ATM transactions. As a security measure, the card will prompt for the PIN to be entered to verify the customer’s identity from time to time.

More than 8000 merchant sites, including branches of Borders, Thortons, Krispy Kreme and Pret A Manger now accept contactless payments.