TfL Planning Upgrade For Contactless Bank Cards

19960525 13 LT Baker St. station
Creative Commons License photo credit: davidwilson1949

Transport for London (TfL) has announced plans to upgrade its network of Oyster card readers to work with contactless bank cards.

Talking about the plans, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

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


By the end of 2012 card readers across the whole of the TfL network will have been upgraded so that a touch of a contactless bank or credit card will allow passengers 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 new system will be up and running on all of London’s 8,000 buses in time for the 2012 Games, enabling quick and easy bus travel for the millions of visitors who will flock to the Capital.

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.

Oyster will also continue to be accepted for the many millions of customers who use it every day.


To make the new system possible TfL is upgrading software in the Oyster smartcard system to recognise contactless credit and debit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express as well as Oyster cards.

The software upgrade being delivered on the Oyster system will be fully approved by the payment schemes and will make full use of the payments industry’s security systems.

Certain features of contactless payments will be adapted to suit the public transport environment – for example, customers will never be asked to enter a PIN at a busy station gate-line.

Customers who choose to pay this way will be charged for their travel directly from their bank or credit card account, removing the need to go out of their way to top up Oyster pay as you go credit balances.


Whilst this is all great news, there’s a noticeable lack of mention of the use of NFC technology in mobile phones. The Oyster network will work with contactless bank cards, but with NFC likely to take off over the next couple of years, will the upgrades soon be out of date?

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