Government Touts Smart Tickets – Then Warns Over Crime


The Home Office has said it is working with mobile and banking experts to minimise the emergence of new types of crime associated with so-called contactless payments

One week after proudly stating how electronic tickets could revolutionise transport and help cut emissions, the government has warned that the technology could actually expose users to new types of crime.

Earlier this month, the government launched a consultation paper on the future of smart tickets with a full strategy planned for later this year. Citing success stories such as the Oyster card and the Nottingham Citycard, the Department for Transport said that it is getting behind the concept of smart tickets – including pre-pay credit on mobile phones.


But this week, the government announced that it has been working closely with the mobile phone and banking industry to try and curb new types of fraud which could be opened up by using mobile phones and smart-cards for contactless payments such as ticketing.

In a statement, the Home Office said that mobile and banking groups had signed up to a set of guidelines designed to minimise the risks associated with the technology such as identity theft, fraud and potentially physical theft such as mugging.

“Previous advances in technology have led to unexpected new forms of crime; email heralded the phenomenon of ‘phishing’, ATMs precipitated the new crime of ‘card catching’ and online banking gave rise to ‘key logging’, used by fraudsters to track the input of secret passwords and account numbers,” the Home Office said in a statement.

The government’s guidelines include:

• Ensuring contactless payment functions, SIM cards and phones will be disabled as soon as possible once a contactless payment mobile phone is reported lost or stolen.

• That any transactions above the maximum contactless payment value (currently £10) will require verification, such as a pin code, similar to the current guidelines that underpin existing contactless card payment schemes. Additional security such as a pin codes will also be required if more than a certain number of low-value transactions are carried out consecutively.

• Any customer who signs up for a contactless payment phone will be encouraged to add their details on the National Mobile Phone Register to make it easier for stolen phones to be identified and recovered.

“These guidelines are an important step forward in protecting the public from criminals,” said Home Office minister Alan Campbell. “I am pleased that the mobile and banking industries have worked with us to ensure that the public are protected at the earliest opportunity.”

The Home Office claims that around 90 per cent of handsets reported stolen are now blocked within 24 hours of reporting “reducing their value and the incentive for criminals”.