Transport for London (TTfL) has announced plans to launch a trial of contactless payment, offering travellers the opportunity to pay for their journey via near field communication (NFC) via their smartphones. The scheme, which is expected to launch in the near future, allows commuters to pay for their travel by presenting mobile phones to automatic ticket barriers across the tube system.
Mobile operators EE and Vodafone have been involved in the scheme, offering travellers mobile wallet apps which can be preloaded with credit prior to a journey.
The trial is an interesting development in NFC payments. A 2013 study from Gartner showed that while mobile payment would increase 44 per cent from 2012-2013, just two per cent of transactions would be powered by NFC. Indeed, one criticism of NFC is that it often isn’t the quickest or easiest form of payment. This concern is shared by Alex Spencer from MobileMarketingMagazine, who argues that the trial may face complications based on these issues.
“If you’ve ever been through a tube station at peak time, you’ll know how impatient the crowds passing them is held up for any length of time.”
Speaking about these concerns, TTfL’s Customer Experience Director Shashi Verma said that the service would be heavily monitored.rough these barriers become when a person in front of them is held up for any length of time.”
“We are doing some testing to see how the devices perform on the system and welcome any new payment technologies that meet the relevant industry standards and enable sufficiently fast transactions speeds.”
Many are judging the trial as a landmark development for NFC and it is seen by some as an indication of whether the technology will ever be mass adopted by mobile owners in the United Kingdom. We’ll report more from the trial as and when more details are announced.