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Transport for London to trial Oyster phone

Passengers on the London Underground may start using mobile handsets in place of travel cards.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Upcoming trials will see passengers on the London Underground use a mobile handset as a substitute for their travel cards, reports suggest.

According to The Guardian newspaper, trials will involve phone manufacturer Nokia, mobile operator O2 and Transport for London (TfL), the agency that runs London's public transport network. The report in The Guardian claims that a specific handset is being developed which can be swiped across the Oyster cardreaders used at the ticket gates of London Underground stations.

As with the Oyster card itself, the handset will probably use a variant of RFID technology called near-field communications (NFC). The same technology has recently been incorporated into some new banking cards so that they can be used in shops for contactless payment of small amounts.

Visa even has a "payWave" credit card that features the capability to make small, contactless payments in shops, as well as functioning as an Oyster card.

Meanwhile, in Japan, many mobile phones already incorporate NFC technology for travel and payment purposes.

None of the parties reported to be involved in the TfL trials were willing to give further details at the time of writing, but it is understood that a formal announcement of the trials will be made soon.

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