Smartphones are a big part of most people’s lives nowadays. In fact, it is very rare that people ever leave the house without their smartphones. Since this is a device that is glued to everyone’s side, wouldn’t it be nice if it could be used for even more tasks than what it already does? How about paying for travel around the city? Well, this may soon be the case for people living in London.
According to Transport for London, travellers may soon be able to use their smartphones to pay for travel around the city. In fact, Transport for London has already held talks with travel operators inside London, such as Vodafone and EE. The goal of these talks is to set up some kind of system in which people can pay for travel around the city using a contract-less payment system via their smartphone. This kind of scheme would have to be set up with near field communication technology.
NFC is something that has been around for a long time, but it is starting to take the world by storm. In fact, NFC has even been used in the gaming industry. The popular game Skylanders uses this technology to allow gamers to load different characters into their game simply by placing one of the game’s figures onto a “portal of power.” This portal uses NFC to help load that character into the game. Even the Wii U has near filed communication capability thanks to its GamePad. There is a spot on the GamePad that allows gamers to touch certain objects and upload it into their games.
To start off this scheme, travel operators will run a “pay as you go-like” scheme using apps that they own. These apps will allow users to re-load money and just show their phone when it comes time to travel.
One example of this has already been seen with EE. It has an app called Cash on Tap that lets travellers load money to it and use contact-less pay when it comes time to pay for travel. This cuts down their wait time when it actually comes time to travel.
Vodafone is expected to follow this example by expanding its Mobile Wallet app. The app is going to be launched in other European countries as well, not just the UK. When it does the expansion, there are talks of upgrading existing apps so that they could be used for part of the Transport for London scheme.
The director of customer experience at Transport for London, Shashi Verma, said that the upgrade that the company has made for operators to accept contact-less payment cards can also be used for mobile phones. Transport for London is in the middle of testing this theory before rolling it out to the masses. If it works, it will enable very fast and secure payments.