30 September 2014

London buses to start accepting contactless bank cards

10 December 2012  |  10714 views  |  12 London  Bridge

From Thursday, Londoners will be able to pay for some bus journeys using their contactless bank cards.

Transport for London (TfL) confirmed last February plans to upgrade all Oyster card readers across the capital to work at the touch of a bank-issued debit or credit card.

It had hoped to have the new system up and running on all of London's 8000 buses in time for the Olympic Games, with the Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground network following by the end of the year.

By May the timeline was scrapped though, with Shashi Verma, director, customer experience, TfL promising: "We will only roll it out once we are confident it is 100% robust."

The switch to contactless bank card payments is designed to reduce commissions and processing costs for TfL, as well as making life easier for commuters who will no longer need to have - and top up - a separate Oyster.

However, the move has faced criticism, with a report last November from the London Assembly branding it "unconvincing", raising questions about the fairness, security and cost-saving potential of a new system.

Comments: (12)

A Finextra member | 10 December, 2012, 11:05

Great, so now my contactless bank card can't be in the same wallet as my Oyster card. This means I have to have two wallets. Progress? Hardly.

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

OK I pre-load my Oyster and then pay £1.40. Will I get it for £1.40 with my Credit/Debit Card, or will it be the cash-equivalent rate of £2.40?

Will there really be a reduction in Fees and Commissions for TfL - I doubt it somehow. How can the Banks cover their costs on such a micro-payment?

Meanwhile I actually get my over 60's Oyster Card in 2 months time, so like the previous comment now I'll need to keep them in separate wallets?

A Finextra member | 10 December, 2012, 14:48

I carry two wallets when travelling on the train/tube. One with my railcard and season ticket, the other my 'normal' wallet so no change here.

Once this is fully deployed there will be no need to hold a seperate Oyster card, so again no problem as far as I can see.

David Griffiths - gryffle - Hertford | 10 December, 2012, 15:38

So ...

What happens when the Revenue Protection Agent (Inspector) gets on and want's to check that I have paid?  The Revenue Protection Agent has got to read my card ...

Can we see a time when clever criminals are dressing up like TfL staff and waving electronic pickpocketting devices under the noses of the unsuspecting travelling public?  "Can I check your card sir?", "Of course you can, here it is" ... Kerr-ching!

A Finextra member | 10 December, 2012, 15:45 Hi David, what data could they 'pickpocket' that is useful and enables them to make a subsequent transaction?
David Griffiths - gryffle - Hertford | 10 December, 2012, 17:17


But you try explaining that to the average contactless card user, especially after they have heard about all of the problems of contactless card sniffing in the US, which they have then seen amplified by the scaremongers at the Daily Mail and then presented in visual form by the good Prof Ross and the BBC.

It's not about risk, it's about the perception of risk.

Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 11 December, 2012, 00:07

I won't comment on security (I don't want bite the hand that feeds me).

Let's look at user experience instead.

You will need a separate wallet (or one with a separate one-card pocket) - if you have several contactless cards in your wallet (which many of us will, whether we ask for it or not), TfL reader will not know which one to use. So, you'll need to physically separate one card from the rest.

Talking of the above, how many people have lost their Oyster cards? Now extrapolate the same situation to your banking card...

If you go overdrawn on a particular day, you card will be put on a denial list due to "insufficient funds". If you then add funds to that account, it could still take hours to get your card removed from the denial list. Imagine that situation at 10pm...

To name just the most obvious issues consumer will have to face.

Social inclusion (elders, youngsters, unbankable etc) means that Oyster will have to remain (at the background). Talk about cost savings...

A Finextra member | 11 December, 2012, 16:40

*groan* TFL and their waivers for contactless payment processing. It's no fun. At all.

The idea of a thief presenting themselves as a revenue protection officer has legs though, especially as TFL want to completely phase out oyster for cost and data reasons. Using a contactless reader on a compromised account to actually take payments up to the contactless limit under the guise of revenue protection (ie social engineering) - you could farm a hell of a lot of people in a day or so and then do a starburst laundering operation. Even better now that most busses only have a driver - of course this will be a lot more attractive once it rolls out to trains / tubes where the driver (if any) is properly segregated from the passengers. 

I'm sure I completely misunderstand contactless payments, but then again, so do most people.

Dirk Kinvig - Finextra - London | 12 December, 2012, 15:18

From the horses mouth with regards to having both your contactless bank card and lobster card in the same wallet/card holder sleeve:



Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 12 December, 2012, 15:35

Also from the horses mouth - "Daily price caps will not be applied". 

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.  

David Griffiths - gryffle - Hertford | 12 December, 2012, 15:39

It doesn't have to be like that!

Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 12 December, 2012, 15:48

Gentlemen, do not panic. There are, of course, issues (mildly put), but - fortunately - there are solutions too (if TfL continues to listen).

However, generally speaking, open-standard (EMV) in transit brings more questions than answers for sure...

And that's before we open another can of worms (ITSO)...

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