Transport for London Looks to Trial NFC Smartphone Payments

Since 1829, commuters in London have been paying cash for public transportation. Currently there are less than 1% of the commuters who pay through cash for traveling in a Bus in London.UK network operators including EE and Vodafone have been in talks with Transport for London to make a move towards smartphone contactless payment schemes, according to Financial Times.

99% of riders paid fares using the Oyster Card, prepaid tickets, contactless payment cards or concessionary tickets, so TfL decided to ban cash payments on buses.

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  • Transport for London is conducting a contactless payments trial that could allow passengers to pay for journeys using a smartphone in future.
  • The initial trial is expected to be a pay as you go scheme using apps owned by the mobile operators that can be preloaded with money.
  • Operators could also consider payment for tickets on a weekly or monthly basis, according to a person familiar with the plans.

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, said Shashi Verma, TfL’s director of customer experience. 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.

It’s not clear when the trial for this contactless payment service extension will begin, however Transport for London does aim to replace the Oyster Card with a more open service for London buses and the underground, and it is part of the plan.

In a similar move across Europe, Sweden is moving towards implementing cashless payments on its public transport network. Smart cards have been introduced elsewhere in England but going completely cashless may take some time. In Northeast England passengers are paying for the bus service by downloading tickets on their mobile phones.

Go Ahead which is a leading bus operator in England has introduced a smartcard system known as The Key. This smartcard system is already used for over 3 Million journeys a month outside London. Stagecoach which is also a leading bus operator shared that 1/3rd of the journeys made on its buses are paid through a smart card.