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July 26, 2013
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Church tries ATM cards for offering

SHELDON WILLIAMS, Staff Reporter

Don't have any cash while they are taking donations in church? No problem. You might still be able to make your contribution with your ATM card.

Jehovah's Witnesses will embark on a trial run to determine the practicality of going cashless in their Kingdom halls, by introducing portable point of sale (POS) swipe machines to members. The first test will be at the church group's Kingston District Convention this weekend.

The mechanism would allow members to use debit and credit cards rather than cash to give their donations to the convention, which starts today at Sabina Park and ends on Sunday.

"If our members like it, if it's cost effective, we will introduce it in the Kingdom halls," Leroy Harding, a member of the convention committee remarked.

Harding emphasised that the contributions are voluntary and not forced upon members. "In some churches, persons walk around with buckets and if you see your neighbour giving, you may be forced to give. We don't take collection, we talk donation. That's the fundamental difference between us and other churches. You give as your heart is implored by the spirit," he said.

At the same time, he advised that the witnesses will not make a hasty decision because of the accompanying costs that POS machines attract.

"There's a cost factor. Those machines are not cheap. So, the question is if there is 50 or 60 members, does it make sense to rent a machine because you have to pay the bank for them? Bank fees are expensive," Harding reasoned. "It's more appropriate when you have a (convention) crowd like this, it's more appropriate I would believe when you get a few machines to simplify the process."

Another member of the committee, Neville Daley, emphasised the safety gains the POS provide.

"Sometimes, when you have dishonest minds that see crowds like these. They see the crowd as people who they can get something from, so they profile people and they try to rob you," Daley said.

The convention will be held under the theme 'God's Word is Truth', and is expected to be attended by about 12,500 persons.

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