Transport for London has confirmed plans to upgrade all Oyster card readers across the capital to work at the touch of a bank-issued debit and credit card.
Under the system, passengers will be able to use their contactless bank cards to touch in and out for pay as you go travel on the bus, Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tram and London Overground network.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says: "We will be the first in the world to allow the millions using our Tube, trams, buses and trains to benefit from the ease of using this technology.'
The new system will be up and running on all of London's 8000 buses in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, and rolled out onto the Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground network before the end of 2012.
Discussions are also under way with the Train Operating Companies that serve London about whether contactless payment cards could be used on National Rail services where Oyster is currently accepted.
The switch to contactless bank card payments will reduce commissions and processing costs for TfL, as well as enabling a reduction in the number of Oyster cards produced and issued.
TfL says it is also in talks with transport operators around the world to share information and experience on using this technology on their systems.
The move is likely to provide a serious incentive for all UK banks to implement a switch to contactless cards. Around 10 million contactless cards have been issued in the UK so far with both NatWest and Barclays launching cards in 2007 and Halifax later. Others, such as HSBC, Nationwide and Santander, have so far abstained on the introduction of the feature.