Feeds

Londoners can bonk their way to work without Oyster cards TODAY

Buses first to siphon cash from NFC bank cards, mobes

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Ticket machines on London buses are set to accept pay-by-tap credit and debit cards from today, it has been announced. The capital's Underground system is expected to follow suit sometime later, wirelessly siphoning cash from commuters and bypassing the Oyster card system.

The system will use MasterCard's PayPass platform: but it should also support cards using Visa's PayWave system. Bus passengers will immediately be able to pay their fare with a bonk of the card, saving (according to MasterCard) a day in the life of every London commuter who won't have to keep topping up their Oyster card.

London's transport authority has been trying to get rid of the hugely successful Oyster card for years; it had planned to accept contact-less bank cards and mobile phones equipped with Near Field Communications (NFC) in time for the Olympics.

The problem with Oyster is that not only does it require everyone using it to pay up front - to the annoyance of tourists and occasional visitors - but Transport For London also has to hand over a proportion of every top-up to the companies running the scheme and would prefer to keep the dosh in-house.

At one point there was a plan to offset the costs by convincing retailers to accept Oyster cards in payment for newspapers, cigarettes and the like, but shopkeepers were very reluctant to get involved and the plan had to be scrapped. Now the idea is to go the other way in accepting bank cards at tube turnstiles and buses ticket machines.

Various trials have been run, generally demonstrating that the process is too slow: the tube network wanted customer data in the pay-by-tap card or phone to be read within 300 milliseconds but will negotiate up to 500 - half a second.

The problem is that credit card payments are usually checked online and it's hard to do that in the time allowed, so NFC Times reports that Mastercard has negotiated with TfL to have preliminary approval issued within the office and then confirmed with the bank later - which could allow a peak-time traveller to exceed their overdraft, but the advantages outweigh the risks.

Buses come first as the fixed cost is much easier to manage - London buses charge a flat-rate fare regardless of distance travelled - but tubes will follow soon and the sociological impact of bonking a credit card against a turnstile should not be underestimated: the vast majority of bank cards issued in the UK support pay-by-tap, but few customers know that. Evidence shows that seeing other people using such technologies is the key spur to use, so witnessing millions of Londoners bonking their way into work every morning could easily be a tipping point for NFC in Blighty. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.