Skip to main content

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?


Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou