TfL to Trial Smartphone NFC Payments on Tube

Tube London Underground Train TfL TfL (Transport for London) is planning to trial a contactless payment which will enable people to pay for their travel using smartphones, according to a report in the FT.

The transport authority has upgraded the readers in its ticket barriers to accept NFC payments from smartphones, and is set to launch a preloaded mobile wallet system in the near future, working in partnership with UK operators including Vodafone and EE. Using the operators apps, travellers will be able to preload money onto their account and scan their device at the start and end of each journey.

However, if youve ever been through a tube station at peak time, youll know how impatient the crowds passing through these barriers become when a person in front of them is held up for any length of time. Based on director of customer experience Shashi Vermas comments to the FT, this seems to be a concern that TfL shares:

“We are doing some testing to see how the devices perform on the system,” said Verma, “and welcome any new payment technologies that meet the relevant industry standards and enable sufficiently fast transactions speeds.”

Whether the forthcoming trial will put these worries to rest, or just prove that the technology isnt yet ready, remains to be seen.