London's pre-paid contactless Oyster travel card could be dumped by 2010 in favour of a system that uses mobile phones or bank cards, says Transport for London (TfL).
TfL told the London Assembly today it is looking at various technologies and providers to take over from the current Oyster system - run by consortium Transys - in 2010.
Will Judge, head, future ticketing, TfL, told the assembly's budget and performance committee the system could be delivered on a smartcard - like Oyster - or on a phone or bank card. The new system could also have a different name, meaning the death of the Oyster brand, says Judge.
TfL also revealed that Oyster is expected to be available on London riverboat services next year, with other parts of the capital's transport system to follow.
Transys is having its contract terminated early in a bid to save millions of pounds. The system has come under scrutiny recently, with outages and the publication of a research paper outlining security flaws found in the Mifare chips used in the cards.
TfL says it will ditch the current private finance initiative (PFI) model in favour of a contract divided into modules with each bit let individually.
Earlier this year TfL partnered handset manufacturer Nokia, phone network O2, Visa and TranSys on a pilot to enable customers to pay for tube journeys using mobile handsets.
The pilot was hailed a success, with nine out of ten participants saying they were happy using NFC technology on a mobile phone and 78% said they would be interested in using contactless services if available.
Barclaycard currently has an exclusive deal with Transys to provide Oyster functionality as part of its OnePulse contactless debit card. That contract too will expire in 2010.
Earlier this week MasterCard and the Royal Bank of Scotland revealed plans to trial a combined contactless bank and transit card in Liverpool. Unlike London's Oyster, the card does not need to be topped up because funds are automatically debited from the debit or credit card.