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Transport for London looking to introduce smartphone based fare payments

With NFC on your smartphone, using it to pay for your morning commute across London may be getting closer to reality. According to a report in the Financial Times, carriers EE and Vodafone have begun talks with Transport for London over beginning trials of a mobile wallet to pay for your travel.

The initial trial is expected to be a “pay as you go” scheme using apps owned by the mobile operators that can be preloaded with money. Operators could also consider payment for tickets on a weekly or monthly basis, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The barriers at London Underground stations will work with smartphones for NFC payments, though that facility would need to be activated first. With the successful Oyster card scheme costly for TfL to run, they're opening up to other methods of contactless payments for travellers.

Source: Financial Times

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

22 Comments
  • Vodafone UK have already said this morning they know nothing, but watch TfL for further info.
    Also, did you purposely pick a tube with the destination of Cockfosters for a reason?
  • The USA lives in the past!
  • Why are you saying that ?
  • TFL have said previously that NFC on phones is too slow through the barriers, it will be interesting to see the queues.
  • yep that's the reason I heard as well..  NFC is too slow, but maybe things have changed? anyway, well done TFL.. definitely a world class op they are running, unlike Sydney and it's Opal Card.
  • I can't see any reason why it would be slower than contactless payment cards... Not quite as quick as oyster but quick enough
  • This explains why; http://news.sky.com/story/1246991/smartphones-too-slow-for-london-transport
  • London Underground is already trialling contactless card payments internally so this is the next logical step. I believe the systems are already in place for it, just waiting to be trialled.
  • Watch this being limited to a few Android handsets again, and why do these operators insist on using their own wallets when most NFC phones have a built in solution? Plus, if they really want NFC payments to take off in a big way, it needs to be available regardless of what your operator is. I just want to be able to use my phone to pay at any contactless payment point available today, but I think it's going to take a while yet if it's left up to the operators. In my opinion, MS made a mistake to leave the secure payment element over to them.
  • Or they'll make it iPhone only and insist on users getting a special shell, like Barclaycard did with that iCarte thingy whilst ignoring both Android and WP which natively support NFC.
  • Which is even crazier, but doesn't surprise me at all. Microsoft needs to get involved and start pushing Tap to Pay functionality of their phones a bit more. They hardly mentioned it since they originally announced it with Windows Phone 8. I wonder if anything will change with 8.1, considering they have now a toggle for this in the NFC settings.
  • Barclaycard give you a sticker which can be attached to any phone. They can't use the built in functionality of windows phone because it relies on the operators who are universally hopeless....
  • Haha) Lebara
  • Yes Lebara,what about it?
  • NFC currently works in the UK on Visa cards. And HSBC are planning an app, called Paym, to transfer payments to another Paym app. So there are different options in use and coming soon. So NFC would be a good addition.
  • NFC payments are available on Visa, MasterCard and American Express in the UK... And on paym, if only they could be bothered to make a windows phone app
  • Paym are not making an app, afaik. It is a service that will be offered by several banks in the UK and they'll each have to update their respective app to enable this. If your bank currently has an app on Windows Phone, it is very likely they'll have this.
  • Ahh right, ok... That does make it more interesting then... If its widely adopted, anyway.
  • Interesting story related to NFC payments by phone; http://news.sky.com/story/1246991/smartphones-too-slow-for-london-transport
  • Move along WP users, there's nothin for you to see here. Please mind the gap. TFL apologises for the delay.
  • As stated by others TFL have ruled out NFC as it is too slow. It would lead to chaos on the underground. I'm not saying that people aren't trying to develop apps to do this but NFC was and is too slow and will not be phased in until such time that it can be dramaticaly speeded up. 
  • Churnalist BS. TFL just did a study on NFC and found it too slow. The conclusion was that the Underground would become overcrowded due to delays at the gates. Maybe they'd let the scheme operate on buses, maybe. Here's an idea, churnalist, how about you do your job and go read the report to find out what they ruled out?