News Column

Contactless bank cards could see tube customers ditch Oyster cards

July 26, 2014

Miles Brignall,

Millions of London Underground passengers will soon be able to ditch their Oyster cards and gain access to the tube network using only their bank card.

Transport for London said that from 16 September, people can simply tap a debit or credit card if it is enabled for contactless payment on the terminal gates as they start and end their journey, with the payment coming straight out of the bank account.

Bus travellers in London have been able to pay for their single journeys using contactless banks cards since 2012, and the technology is now being rolled out to include the tube, Docklands Light Railway and London Overground trains. The wider use comes almost a year later than planned and follows a trial of about 3,000 passengers.

TfL said it expects the move will save it up to 80m?in the next five years by reducing payments to the firm providing Oyster cards, although it has no plans to phase the method out.

Ahead of the contactless introduction, tube tannoys have been warning passengers about the risk of "card clash". Commuters have been told not to keep two contactless bank cards in their wallet as the wrong one could be charged when they touch in or out. TfL insists there is no risk of double charging for a journey.

And, as with Oyster, there will still be a daily and weekly cap on the cost of journeys.

TfL said all UK issued contactless credit, debit and pre-paid cards will be accepted, but some non-UK cards may not. All customers will be able to see their journeys and payments over the previous seven days using the TfL website.

Industry analysts said the move would give a much needed boost to contactless payments, which have only recently become popular despite being offered by some banks since 2007.

Coffee shops, fast food outlets including McDonald's, and a number of supermarkets now accept contactless payments of up to 20. Customers do not have to enter their pin, and 700,000 contactless transactions are made every single day, according to Barclaycard.

The lack of cards has held back its mass take-up, and even now only 30% of the 157m UK bank cards in circulation are fitted with the technology although the numbers are rising daily. The UK Cards Association's managing director, Graham Peacop, said: "This is a major step for contactless cards and their introduction across London's transport network means we expect their surge to continue."

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Source: Guardian Web

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