News & Views - Savantor

Contactless getting hotter

Friday, 01 December 2006

Hot on the heels of the recently announced UK roll out of contactless cards in 2007 we now have the news that at long last a deal has been done to place Oyster functionality on debit and credit cards.  Barclaycard, will next year introduce contactless cards that can be used to pay transit fares on London trains and buses. The card will be compatible with Oyster, Transport for London's contactless fare-payment card, and will also allow cardholders to make low-value purchases at merchant outlets by tapping the card against a reader.

The card will have its formal launch sometime next summer, but small numbers of cards will be issued before that time in a test run of the new contactless system. The contactless cards will look exactly the same as traditional Barclaycard credit cards but will also have Visa's contactless symbol as well as the Oyster logo on the reverse side.   The cards will have a dual interface chip where the contact interface will manage Barclaycard payments and the contactless interface will have two separate and distinct functions; Oyster, and a low value, contactless payment capability.  Oyster has grown considerably in popularity with London commuters since its launch and now has 5 million active cards and accounts for 70% of the 10 million daily journeys covering tube, bus and DLR.

So although it has taken a long time for contactless payment to really take hold in the UK it seems that 2007 will be a watershed year with all the major UK players involved in some way.  One of the interesting aspects of this latest revolution will be the variety of form factors that evolves.  Mobile phones watches and key fobs are in regular use elsewhere in the world so it can only be a matter of time before these start to hit UK consumers.

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