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TFL ready to trial smartphone travel

We could be ditching our Oyster cards any day now as Transport for London gets ready for smartphone swiping trials.

Plans to get London transport users paying for travel with their smartphones are well underway, with negotiations taking place between TFL and various operators such as EE and Vodafone. The scheme will see users tap in and out with their mobiles, which use the same wireless NFC tech as Oyster cards.

TFL ready for smartphone oyster trials

Initial trials may take a pay as you go approach, which involve downloading an app from your chosen operator and loading it up with pre-pay credit before travelling. Each trip will then deduct a set fee from your balance. However, if trials are successful, we’d expect the scheme to open up to daily, weekly, monthly and annual travelcards too.

NFC now comes as standard in many mid-range smartphones, but we’ve only seen a few real life uses so far. For example, you can load up your phone with virtual credit using the likes of Vodafone’s Mobile Wallet, and use it to pay for goods at select UK chains.

Oyster is apparently quite an expensive initiative for TFL to maintain, which might explain its delight in pursuing new technologies.

TFL’s director of customer experience Shashi Verma said: “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.

“We are doing some testing to see how the devices perform on the system and welcome any new payment technologies that meet the relevant industry standards and enable sufficiently fast transactions speeds.”

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