TfL confirms contactless payments for 2012

Transport for London on board with NFC payment cards...

Transport for London on board with NFC payment cards...

London hopes to become the first city in the world to allow passengers to use contactless-payment credit and debit cards to pay for journeys across its entire transport network.

By the end of 2012, Transport for London (TfL) says travellers will be able to pay for journeys by swiping their contactless card across Oyster card readers for its bus, Tube, tram and train services. The new system will be up and running on all of London's 8,000 buses in time for the 2012 Games in July.

London bus and contactless payments

Contactless payment cards will be accepted across London's transport network by the end of 2012
Photo: E01

The news was welcomed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who said in a statement: "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 software in the Oyster smartcard system to allow electronic readers to recognise near-field communications-enabled (NFC) contactless credit and debit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express, as well as Oyster cards.

When customers touch their contactless card to the Oyster reader at the end of their journey, the cost will be debited from their account.

Train operating companies that run services into London are also in discussion with TfL about contactless credit and debit cards being supported by National Rail services where the Oyster card is currently accepted.

TfL says supporting contactless payment cards will also allow it to reduce the money spent issuing Oyster cards, as well as its back-end support costs.

TfL has been interested in contactless technology for some time, having taken part in a 2007 contactless mobile phone trial where testers used NFC-enabled mobile handsets to pay for travel and swipe through ticket gates.

TfL's renewed interest in new contactless ticketing options stemmed from its purchase of the Oyster brand from TranSys, with an agency spokeswoman previously saying it gave them "more flexibility to look into emerging technologies".

Last year TfL estimated that the number of contactless credit and debit cards in circulation in the UK had hit nine million. Barclays bank has been issuing replacement debit cards with contactless functionality as standard since March 2009 and estimates its entire debit card estate will be contactless by the end of 2011.

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