10 February 2016

Bank cards on buses will save Londoners time and money - MasterCard

13 December 2012  |  9480 views  |  8 Mastercard - PayPass

As Londoners begin paying for bus journeys using their contactless bank cards this week, MasterCard claims that by ditching their Oyster cards commuters could save a day's worth of queuing every year.

Behind schedule, from today London's 8500 buses will start accepting contactless debit and credit cards for single Oyster fares. The Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground network - as well as daily and weekly price capping - are slated to follow by the end of next year.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, says: "Lots of us have had the frustrating experience of dashing to board a bus only to discover that our Oyster card has run out of credit. So the arrival of this latest technology is welcome news, meaning that with a simple touch of a contactless payment card, people can avoid having to scrabble for change and also still benefit from the Oyster fare discount."

To coincide with the change, MasterCard has carried out research it claims shows that commuters wastes an entire day every year queuing to buy their tickets either as they board a bus or prior to travel.

In addition, with 30% of London bus journeys still made with cash or a paper ticket, one in 10 passengers have missed a bus because they didn't have the right change or were queuing to buy a ticket. Another 36,000 people per day board a bus and find they have insufficient Oyster pay as you go balance for their journey.

MasterCard argues that as well as saving time, the new way to pay will also help passengers who previously lost out on money they'd loaded on to an Oyster card that was then damaged, lost or stolen. Whilst cash can be recovered from registered cards, TfL figures show that almost £30 million was left unspent on Oysters from April 2009-10.

MasterCard rival Visa has carried out a survey of 2050 people showing that three quarters of London public transport users would like an alternative to cash and Oyster with almost half naming contactless as their preferred option.

Marion King, head, MasterCard's UK & Ireland, says: "Today many commuters lose valuable time as they queue up to buy tickets or top up their Oyster balance...This is another milestone towards a world beyond cash as people have even more opportunities to use contactless payments."

King and TfL's director of customer experience Shashi Verma spoke to Finextra about the bank card plans:


Comments: (8)

A Finextra member | 13 December, 2012, 09:36

You know things are bad when the networks start issuing press statements.

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Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 13 December, 2012, 10:23

MasterCard and Visa are not lying - contactless transit payments are convenient and do save time and money.

IF done right...

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Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 13 December, 2012, 10:36

On the one hand, I agree with Shashi's logic. 

On the other hand, I don't think abolishing (single-handedly in the world) the concept of a "ticket" is the best way forward, especially when it comes to transit.

It's a concept which consumers are familiar with and like to have, for many reasons (airline, railway, cinema, Moon, etc).

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Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 13 December, 2012, 10:54

but if you look at the TfL website,


they also mention that "Daily price caps will not be applied".

Anyone going into Zone 1 from Zone 5 and back again could lose out on this 'solution'

I tend to benefit from this on every trip, in that I end up with my combined train (eg to East Croydon) and bus thereafter come for free.

With this scheme I'd end up paying an extra £5 a day to get back home again - so much for saving money!

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Matt White - Finextra - Toronto | 13 December, 2012, 11:25

@ Keith

Yes, as mentioned in the second paragraph, this is only for single fares at the moment but TfL says daily (and weekly) price capping should be added by the end of next year. 

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Craig Lawrance - Starkspur Ltd - Europe | 14 December, 2012, 09:40

Let's also not forget that visitors to London whether for business or pleasure will benefit hugely from not having to queue to buy or top up their oyster cards in order to use the bus service (and eventually the tube, which is the end-game in this).

This also reduces the pressure on TfL to issue yet more cards, a card issuing business they are keen to get out of.

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A Finextra member | 14 December, 2012, 11:05

This may be useful for those who don't top up online, or who don't have a weekly, monthly or annual Oyster. However, at 17 seconds for a typical contactless payment, vs 300ms for Oyster, it could still cause some queueing

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Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 14 December, 2012, 11:23

It TfL's case, contactless card transaction time is sub-500ms.

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