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TfL tests NFC for London Underground ticket payments

A London Underground tube train passes through a station

Transport for London (TfL) is testing payments via NFC phones for use on the tube and the overground rail network and is piloting contactless card payments with some 5,000 volunteers. Passengers will be offered the option of paying with a contactless card from later this year but the availability of NFC phone payments will depend on the results of performance tests.

The service “will allow customers to use their contactless debit, credit or charge cards to pay their fares on tube, London Overground, DLR, tram and most National Rail services in London by touching their card on the yellow readers just like they do with Oyster,” TfL explains. “The same Oyster pay as you go fares will apply.”

“Although the focus has been on contactless payment cards,” TfL adds, “the upgrades to the readers means that the readers are capable of accepting suitable mobile payment applications.”

“We are continuing to modernise all our transport services to make it easier for customers to do business with us,” says TfL customer experience director Shashi Verma.

“In principle, mobile phones with a Visa, Mastercard or Amex payment application could be accepted on our services. We are testing to see how the devices perform on the system and welcome any innovations which improve the services and choices we are able to offer customers.”

TfL has been working closely with the payments card industry, including The UK Cards Association, American Express, MasterCard, Visa Europe and Barclaycard, on the development of contactless payment card acceptance on the transport network.

“Our work to introduce contactless payment to the tube and rail network is ramping up as we move towards delivering the benefits to all of our customers,” Verma continued. “We’ve seen great results from offering this option on the bus network, with over 11m journeys made. This pilot period on the tube and rail network will allow us to get feedback from our customers as we prepare to make the option available to everyone later this year.”

Mark Austin, director of contactless at Visa, said: “British consumers made 94.3m Visa contactless purchases in 2013 — up from just under 25m in 2012 — and the impending launch of contactless payment on TfL’s network will be a natural evolution for contactless cardholders.

“The evolution won’t stop there however, the payments industry has transformed almost beyond recognition thanks to advances in digital and mobile technologies and we believe mobile services will sit at the heart of how people pay in future. TfL is once again innovating by enabling faster, more convenient payments across its network, and we’re glad to be on that pioneering journey with them.”

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