Contactless technology and transport: a match made in heaven?

Man's hand holding iPhone and paying at Underground TfL contactless terminal using Apple Pay and Visa

Last week, we explored what 2016 holds for payments in the transport industry. The conclusion we came to was that the industry was making a concerted effort to adopt contactless ways of paying – most noticeably in London, where TfL celebrated one year of contactless journeys back in September 2014 and will celebrate Black Cabs adopting the technology in 2016.


Touch and go

This trend will become more obvious on a national level in the near future as The UK Cards association published its framework  that “enables transport operators across the country to implement contactless payments on local pay-as-you-go journeys and provides a consistent experience for travellers”.

To see just how powerful an incentive contactless technology was, we did a quick Twitter poll to see whether people would be more likely to use a Black Cab if it offered contactless technology. The result was overwhelmingly positive as 72 per cent of voters said that they would be more inclined.

Obviously on a larger scale the numbers may vary slightly, but even so, a strong majority of people are clearly keen for Black Cabs to integrate newer technologies. It goes to show the extent of contactless’ technology pulling power.


New Year, New Data

Back in September, TfL published new figures showing there were 625,000 journeys made on its transport network every day using contactless technology alone. Skip to the Christmas period and, according to Visa Europe, over one million Visa cardholder journeys were made in a single day. According to the payments giant, nine out of ten people use a Visa contactless card on the TfL network.

In December alone, Visa Europe saw a 166 per cent annual increase in the total number of journeys by people who used their Visa card to pay as they travelled, and a total spend for the year of £339 million – 7 times the growth in total spend on the year.

As a whole, contactless now represents 25 per cent of all pay-as-you-go transactions on TfL. Visa said that with the launch of wearable devices such as bPay and the Apple Watch, as well as the uptake of mobile NFC payment services, people are finding it easier than ever to use contactless technology to pay for their journeys in London. The company also predicted that throughout 2016, they expect to see usage continue to grow as more wearables are launched and new mobile NFC payments services come online.

TfL’s Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said: “Contactless payments on TfL services has been a huge success. A quarter of our pay as you go customers use contactless payment already because it is so quick and easy and there have been more than 250 million journeys made using cards from over 80 countries. As more people update their cards and see the benefits of this quick and easy to use technology, we’re confident this number will increase even more.”

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