London's Tube to accept contactless payments from September 16th

The contactless payment feature on your bank card is ideal for speeding up minor purchases, and soon it'll be able to replace your Oyster, too. London buses have supported contactless payments for some time, and Transport for London (TfL) has today announced that come September 16th, they'll get you through the barriers at Tube, Overground and DLR stations as well. The benefit of using your bank card is you never have to top it up, and in addition to the daily cap on travel charges already in place, any method of contactless payment will also be subject to a new weekly cap (Monday to Sunday), whereby TfL figures out the cheapest possible fare for that period. You'll be able to keep track of your journey and payment history via an online account, much like you can with a registered Oyster card now. Implementing contactless payments across the wider London transport network comes after a pilot that's been running since April, but TfL are still looking for new lab rats to test the system before its formal launch.

NFC was once considered too slow to be a viable alternative to the RFID chips used in Oyster and bank cards. No longer, however, as EE's jumped on today's announcement with one of its own. The carrier's Cash on Tap mobile payments app will work on London's transport network from the September launch, although it's currently available on only a handful of compatible handsets. Vodafone is also said to be working with TfL, and O2 was testing contactless payments on the Tube way back in 2008, so no doubt those networks will follow suit with their own apps before too long. The problem with mobile wallets, though, is that you have to top them up like an Oyster, meaning bank cards are the clear winner when it comes to convenience.

[Image credit: TfL/Flickr]