Transport for London has been considered a pioneer in the field of NFC and is currently the largest contactless card issuer in the UK with their Oyster cards. Recently it crossed over the border to payments, by beginning to accept contactless payments directly through NFC-enabled debit and credit cards.
“This is quite a revolution. Whether you’re a visitor from abroad or in the UK, whoever you are, get the card out of your pocket and tap it on the reader and travel. So TfL becomes like every other merchant, charging at the end of the day for how much travel you’ve made,” said Matthew Hudson, head of business development for fares and ticketing at TfL.
However, when asked about the possibility of the same technology being used through phones on Oyster terminal, TfL was not sure about doing it. Hudson said he was “not convinced” about mobile NFC payments for London transport and said the process would be too complicated as there are too many stakeholders.
“It’s taken ages. How much money is there to make with all these parties trying to get a piece of it?,” said Hudson, “We’ve just sat back and said we’re not interested. When you’ve worked it out come back to us and we’ll engage,” he added.
While the reluctance to adopt mobile NFC payments might more a fear of losing on Oyster customers, Hudson does point to a critical issue when it comes to mobile payments rollout. NFC mobile payments involve the participation of banks, retailers, mobile networks, device manufacturers and advertisers, who will all be sharing the revenue. With such a small percentage for each party involved, it is hard to make the technology take off. This has been pointed out as one of the reasons behind Apple’s absence from the NFC train.