Smartphone payments coming to London transport

Saqib Shah
April 22, 2014

The end could be nigh for  Oyster cards as Transport for London gets ready for smartphone swiping trials.

Plans to get London transport users paying for travel with their smartphones are well underway, with negotiations taking place between TFL and various operators such as EE and Vodafone.

The scheme will see users tap in and out with their mobiles, which use the same wireless NFC tech as Oyster cards.

Initial trials may take a pay as you go approach, which involve downloading an app from your chosen operator and loading it up with pre-pay credit before travelling. Each trip will then deduct a set fee from your balance.

However, if trials are successful, it could lead to the introduction of  daily, weekly, monthly and annual travelcards too.

NFC  now comes as standard in many mid-range smartphones, but we’ve only seen a few real life uses of the technology so far.

For example, you can load up your phone with virtual credit using the likes of Vodafone’s Mobile Wallet, and use it to pay for goods at select UK chains.

Oyster is apparently quite an expensive initiative for TFL to maintain, which might explain its delight in pursuing new technologies.

TFL’s Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said: “The upgrade we have made to our readers to accept contactless payment cards also makes them capable of accepting suitable payment applications on mobile phones.

“We are doing some testing to see how the devices perform on the system and welcome any new payment technologies that meet the relevant industry standards and enable sufficiently fast transactions speeds.”


About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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