The Transport for London (TfL) network - which includes Bus, Tube, Docklands Light Railway, Tram and London Overground rail services - is upgrading its card readers this year to allow travel and payment using a contactless NFC bank card. Travellers currently need to buy tickets or use a pre-paid Oyster card.
Although the news doesn’t specifically involve mobile payments, it’s expected that any NFC mobile payment service would also be compatible.
The new system will be available on all of London’s 8,000 buses in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, with availability across the Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground networks in place before the end of 2012.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said “It is tip top news that from next year a simple tap of a contactless bank card will be enough to whizz you from A to B in this great city. London leads the way in so many different fields and we will be the first in the world to allow the millions using our Tube, trams, buses and trains to benefit from the ease of using this technology.”
TfL is upgrading the software in the Oyster smartcard system to recognise contactless credit and debit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express in addition to Oyster cards. Aspects of the contactless payment system will be adapted to suit public transport; for example, customers will never be asked to enter a PIN at a busy station gate. No decision has yet been made by the Train Operating Companies that serve London and currently accept Oyster cards.
Over 12 million contactless debit and credit cards are already in circulation in the UK.