UK transport authority to pilot contactless payments

UK transport authority to pilot contactless payments

A transport authority in the North West of England is launching a trial of an Oyster-style pre-paid contactless transit card that will use technology developed by e-money start-up sQuidcard.

The new tap-and-go service will be piloted by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) in Bolton, where residents will be able to use the stored value cards for bus journeys operated by Arriva Manchester.

The latest move follows an agreement between sQuidcard and Bolton Council last year which will see the vendor's e-purse technology added to the Bolton Smart card, which is used to access leisure and library services.

There are currently around 30,000 Bolton Smart cards in circulation and the pilot will allow residents to pay for their bus journeys as well as carrying out low value transactions at merchants accepting the technology.

Commenting on the move, Adam Smith, MD, sQuid, says: "Our philosophy is to make electronic payments a flexible, responsive and cost-effective service for our customers, for merchants and for transport operators. This is something none of the banks or credit card networks is able to offer on the same scale as sQuid because our technology is unique and it sits outside the existing banking payment systems."

SQuidcard says the pilot is slated to begin within the next two months and is expected to lead to a wider roll out across the Greater Manchester area.

Transport for London (TfL) launched its Oyster e-ticketing system in the city in 2003. TfL said last year that it has issued more than 10 million Oyster smart cards since the launch. The London transport authority is also working with handset manufacturer Nokia and phone network O2 to develop a scheme that will enable customers to pay for tube journeys using mobile handsets.

Meanwhile last week MasterCard said it is working with transport operators in New York on a contactless payments trial that will enable customers to use devices such as cards, key fobs and mobile phones to pay fares on buses and trains.

The card firm is teaming with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and NJ Transit for the eight month trial, which is set to kick off in early 2009. Customers will be able to pay fares on buses and trains between New York City and New Jersey by tapping their contactless device at turnstiles and on fare boxes.

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