Friday, 21 June 2013

Contactless missed a trick

My trusty Oyster card
I haven't used contactless payment cards much. This isn't an aversion to using new technology - I love it - or worries about the security, it's just that the only contactless bank card I've got at the moment is a credit card and I pay for most things with a debit card. But seeing it in action the other day made me think that those rolling out the technology have (perhaps because of a vested interest) missed a big trick.

Like many others, even though I don't live in London, I have an Oyster card, the contactless payment method that is the most convenient way to use London Transport. It's a card you load up, then use - so effectively an electronic cash wallet. And it struck me, why don't contactless payment devices accept Oyster cards? It's the same technology, and with a bit of inter-connection on the back end so it could access your Oyster account, the card would become a cashless payment wallet. Great, for instance, to give to children with no danger of over-spending.

We have some experience of this in Swindon. When I first arrived here it was on the tail end of the trial of Mondex, one of the first large scale trials of a cashless payment system. Even though I was late to the game, I relished it. But Oyster would have huge advantages over Mondex in the way it is already well established in London, and with the flood of contactless payment terminals that is spreading through the land. (Contactless payment for car parks next, please, guys.)

For that matter, the Oyster system would be much better if it accepted contactless debit and credit card payments too, but that would be a bigger infrastructure change. Getting Oyster cards accepted as cashless wallets seems to me a much more practical possibility.

How about it?

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