NFC Smartphones Could Pay London Tube, Bus And Rail Fares

TfL and operators reportedly hold talks about letting passengers use their NFC smartphones to pay for their travel

Transport for London (TfL) is reportedly ready to let passengers pay for their travel with a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled smartphone, following discussions with a number of mobile operators.

It is believed that EE and Vodafone are among those who have held talks with TfL, which is adopting a more open approach to contactless payments on tubes, buses and trains in order to ease the cost of running the Oyster card system and reduce the number of cash fares being paid on the London’s transport network.

TfL has allowed bus passengers to use contactless debit, credit or charge cards since late 2012, but recently extended this capability to the London Underground, Overground, trams and most National Rail services in the capital.

Tube NFC payments

London Overground LandscapeAs part of this initiative, many ticket barriers have been upgraded to handle third party payments and this apparently means they are capable of accepting NFC smartphone payments too.

“The upgrade we have made to our readers to accept contactless payment cards also makes them capable of accepting suitable payment applications on mobile phones,” TfL told the Financial Times, adding that it would be open to any payment technology that is fast enough and meets the relevant industry standards.

If such a system was adopted, cash would be stored in each operator’s mobile wallet service – giving them a boost amid increasing competition in the market from card providers such as Visa and MasterCard as well as industry heavyweights such as PayPal and Google Wallet.

EE operates a ‘Cash on Tap’ service, while Vodafone has its own mobile wallet service, however O2 recently shut down its competing platform earlier this year. However all three are working together on the Project Oscar joint-initiative, which is now known as Weve.

Think you know your transport tech? Find out with our quiz!