Is contactless going to stay underground?

TfL roles out contactless card acceptance.

Is contactless going to stay underground?

TfL is pushing towards contactless. As a Londoner, I’m all for it, it’s way overdue. It is actually one year overdue, according to the original schedule, writes Anna Milne

So far I haven’t seen much new signage and certainly over the weekend I witnessed myriad people, all tourists, grappling with the bus network and losing out, not being aware buses are now cashless. A fair few of them no doubt had contactless cards, some of which may have been accepted. So I’m not sure how they would- excuse the pun- fare if Oyster was done away with altogether. But that won’t be for a while and TfL will work this one out. Surely they will work this one out.

A handy little by-product of this TfL initiative is pushing awareness for NFC payments. No complaints from the likes of us here at Cards International and Electronic Payments International. People who never knew their card’s contactless capabilities have joys indeed ahead of them. Especially with Apple’s recent launch, we could be heading for a contactless revolution, or rather, evolution this winter. According to Visa Europe, Visa contactless card use more than doubled from June 2013 to 2014.

I just wonder why they wouldn’t have launched it on Monday, so people can avail straight away of the Monday to Sunday capping?

The weekly cap is of major benefit and likely to be the decider for many to take the plunge sooner or later. It takes the decision right out of having to forecast your weekly or monthly usage and best of all, having to queue up for a new travelcard. Oyster just had daily caps. Devices fitted with contactless technology can also be used. But not all, confusingly.

One thing remains to be ironed out and that is how to carry one’s contactless card. If it’s in a slim wallet with any other contactless cards you have the possibility of card clash. Equally, you don’t want to have to remove it from a wallet for your journey because who wants to do that. And it the thought of keeping it in a separate little pouch or oyster style wallet just jars somewhat. Enter a slew of newly designed phone-plus-one-contactless-card wallets. They already exist but Joe Public needs a well thought out service before he adopts a new regime.

TfL should demonstrate such wallets rather than just warn everyone be careful with card clash, leaving them floundering to modify their wallet/purse/bag/transit modus operandi. This just gives them something to bemoan and gripe about. Otherwise I think everyone will jump on board. But I must say, this is the first time I can see a bona fide case for a smart watch. Merchandising opportunity, TfL? Just keep the branding discrete. Preferably unseen, underneath the clockface.