Contactless Payments Coming to London Buses

Transport for London has introduced contactless payments as a new way for travellers in the capital to pay for bus fares. The technology has been installed in the city’s fleet of more than 8,500 buses, and it is hoped that the new method of payment will make transactions quicker and easier [1].

The New Technology

Contactless payments use a technology called NFC (Near Field Communication) to complete small value transactions. NFC readers are low-power transmitters that create a small electromagnetic field. When an NFC enabled chip is passed in front of this field, the reader is able to power the antenna inside the chip and transfer data to and from it. Bank cards which support contactless payment can use NFC to make quick, small payments which do not require Chip and PIN. When completing a transaction, customers simply lay their bank card flat on the NFC reader and, within seconds, the display will show that the amount has been deducted from the card. If the customer does not have enough money on their card, a red light will flash and they will have to find an alternative way to pay.

Easy and Convenient

The new contactless payment option will benefit casual and regular bus travellers, as well as bus drivers. The amount of time it takes to complete a transaction will be significantly reduced if more passengers use the new technology, and drivers won’t have to spend as much time handling cash. Visitors and tourists to the capital can be intimidated by the busy transport network and the many different travel card and payment options available, so the convenience of being able to pay for a fare with a quick swipe of a card will come as a relief to many. For regular commuters, contactless payment can be a handy alternative if they don’t have time to top-up their Oyster card or if they have forgotten it. Also, the cost of a single journey fare ticket is reduced from £2.40 to £1.40 if contactless payment is used instead of cash [2].

A Secure Way to Pay

Transport for London tested the new technology extensively before the roll out, and they are assuring passengers that it is completely safe and secure. Contactless payments use the same protection and safety measures as other card transactions, and in the unlikely circumstance that something does go wrong, customers will be able to seek compensation from both their bank and Transport for London.

Plans are under way for contactless payments to be integrated in the tube, tram and London overground networks. It is anticipated that Transport for London will save millions every year on reduced cash collection costs with the new technology, and customers will greatly benefit from the convenience of the new payment option.


This post has been supplied on behalf of payment processing provider, First Data Merchant Solutions.

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