London’s reputation for transport innovation has been further enhanced with the confirmation that Transport for London (TfL) will accept Apple Pay when it launches in the UK next month. TfL was the first public transport provider to accept contactless payment cards from banks and will continue this pioneering approach by becoming the first to accept Apple Pay. Apple Pay is a mobile payment service that lets certain Apple mobile devices make payments connected to bank details securely saved upon them. Available in the USA since October 2014, and launching in the UK in July, as it is built on existing Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, Apple Pay will work anywhere that NFC-based contactless payments are accepted. So can easily take advantage of the existing card reading technology.
This will open up Apple Pay to a large metropolitan user-base already familiar with contactless payments. Public transport has potential beyond this – if a bank card can be securely saved and used through a smartphone, how long before the same opportunity is given for a travel card allowing people to tap their phones at the turnstiles for easy access?
Is this another step towards the end of the physical travel card? TfL developed the contactless technology needed to travel on its services in-house and is leading the way with over 100 million contactless journeys made on its tube and rail services since it launched in September 2014, having launched on London’s buses in December 2012. One in ten contactless transactions in the UK are made on TfL's network, making TfL one of the largest contactless merchants worldwide and over four million unique credit or debit cards have been used on TfL services so far. More than 1.2 million contactless transactions are made each day on TfL services - representing 17 per cent of pay as you go journeys. This high level of take up continues to drive the use of contactless elsewhere in the retail, food and leisure industry.
TfL's Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said at the announcement: “With around one in ten of all contactless transactions in the UK now taking place on our transport services in London, we are delighted to welcome Apple Pay as another new and convenient contactless way for our customers to pay for their travel. I would encourage anyone who uses pay as you go to try contactless. There's no need to top-up, just touch in and out with your mobile device, credit or debit card.”
Customers using contactless pay the same adult-rate pay as you go fare as Oyster and benefit from having their fares capped - this automatically calculates the best value for their contactless travel in a day or over a seven-day period from Monday to Sunday. The top five London Underground stations for contactless payments are Oxford Circus, Kings Cross, London Bridge, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.
A recent study forecast that global ticket purchases via mobile and desktop devices including smartphones, tablets and PCs will reach 32bn by 2019, up from an estimated 16.2bn this year. This represents a two-fold growth over the next 4 years.