Co-operative Food is trialling contactless payment ahead of an anticipated uplift in its use during the Olympics.

The grocer will trial the technology in 175 stores, predominantly within the M25, as it seeks to improve customer service.

The Co-op began using the technique at its four Manchester city centre stores last week and will upgrade chip and pin terminals to be contactless in an extra 50 sites within the M25 later this month.

A further 125 stores in and around London will join the trial from early May. It has also been trialling the payment method in its pharmacies.

A Co-op spokesman said: “Customer convenience is a priority. The significance of locating most of the trial sites in the M25 area is that they will all be online for contactless payment ahead of the London Olympic Games, where this point-of-sale technology is expected to be promoted and used prominently.”

A decision will be made on whether to roll out contactless payment to all of the retailer’s 2,883 food stores by the end of 2012.

Other retailers to have introduced the payment method include Superdrug, WHSmith, Lakeland, Waitrose and Wilkinson.

The move follows the grocer’s roll-out of its InStock system in February. The automated store ordering system allows the retailer to improve availability, increase frequency of deliveries and free up store staff to focus on serving customers.

The Co-operative Group chief information officer Andy Haywood said: “The Co-operative has been working hard to roll out this unique payment method across Greater London in time for the 2012 Olympics, which has been billed as a contactless event, and then its entire pharmacy and food estate by the end of the year.

“Contactless technology will mean a much faster and easier, yet secure, way for customers to pay for low-value goods, which will result in shorter and speedier queues in our stores.”