Could smartphones replace the Oyster card?

People travelling on the London Underground could soon pay for their journey using their smartphone instead of an Oyster card.

According to, Transport for London (TFL) and phone networks such as EE and Vodafone are teaming up to trial the new scheme. Just like an Oyster card, users will be able to simply tap in and out with their phones, as both use the same Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

To use the new service, people will have to download an app from their chosen network operator. Then they need to pre-pay credit into their account before tapping in. Each journey will cost a specific fee, but in the future it’s likely that weekly, monthly and annual travel cards will be taken into account too.

Shashi Verma, TFL’s director of customer experience, explains that because the same tech is being used, the terminals don’t need to be upgraded to accept payments from mobile phones, but the system does need to be switched on.

“The upgrade we have made to our readers to accept contactless payment cards also makes them capable of accepting suitable payment applications on mobile phones,” he says, reports

“We are doing some testing to see how the devices perform on the system and welcome any new payment technologies that meet the relevant industry standards and enable sufficiently fast transactions speeds.”

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