Frdric Prochasson - Fotolia

Over a million Visa contactless payments made to travel in London on a single day

Over one million journeys on the London tube network were paid for using contactless Visa cards in a single day in the run-up to Christmas

Over one million journeys were paid for using contactless Visa cards to make journeys on the London tube network in a single day, as a total of £339m was spent this way by London travellers in 2015.

The figures from Visa revealed that a quarter of all pay-as-you-go journeys across the Transport for London (TfL) network were paid for using contactless card payments, Oyster cards and other methods.

In September 2015 TfL began  accepting contactless card payments, which meant passengers on the London tube network could pay for journeys using contactless debit or credit cards in the same way Oyster cards are used.

The contactless payment system means there is no need to spend time topping up Oyster cards, as users can pay using near-field communications (NFC) technology in the same way they can pay for goods in retail stores.

Director of customer experience at TfL's, Shashi Verma, said the scheme had been a 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.”

Next year, TfL plans to launch contactless payments for London’s black cabs. 

The take-up of contactless payments for transport in London has led to the announcement in Parliament of an initiative to help roll out contactless payments for transport across the country.

A framework has been developed by the UK Cards Association, to help transport operators across the country to implement contactless payments.

Melanie Johnson, chair of The UK Cards Association, said: “This framework sets out how contactless payments can be used to support any journey, whether a single bus ride or a cross-country trip. We are excited we have been asked by the transit industry to continue the project to help them understand how payment cards can be used for advance purchases and season tickets.”

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Of course. We once carved our purchases into blocks of clay. Then we carried metal tokens everywhere we went. That (mostly) gave way to wads of much lighter paper. Which were supplanted by thin oblongs of plastic (even though they never managed eliminate all that paper).

Then again, it took a thousand years to eliminate those bits of clay, so we seem to be moving along quite quickly....

Now, finally, the mere presence of  a financial source pays the tab. Despite better and better security, transactions still face the modern-day equivalent of highway robbers, though we've gotten far better at fending them off.


I'm only surprised that it's taken so long to get here. And that it's not far more pervasive.