There has been a continuing revolution in the way that people pay for quite some time now. This has particularly been the case for users of the London Underground, run by Transport for London (TfL). Since the introduction of the popular Oyster card as a means of payment back in 2003, the Tube has gained something of a reputation for being among the first to adopt new technologies for payment.
As such, the adoption of contactless payments was something of a no brainer for TfL. For 6 months now, powered by technology provided by Microsoft, users of the London Underground have been able to abandon their Oyster cards and simply scan themselves through using their contactless-enabled debit or credit cards. This has in turn meant shorter queues for ticket machines, as it is no longer necessary to keep Oyster cards topped up.
This enthusiastic adoption has meant that TfL is now the fastest growing contactless merchant in Europe. All of this has been made possible by a Microsoft SQL server system, which hosts the client, called Contact Assistant, that allows contactless payments to be processed while running a new billing engine to ensure a maximum of speed and efficiency.
Shashi Verma, Director of Customer Experience, Transport for London, said,
"the experience has been that every last bit of Contact Assistant has been absolutely flawless. Our experience of working with Microsoft has been very positive, and it’s a strength that we can build upon for the future. People don’t necessarily think of public sector as being capable of innovation. What we’ve done with contactless is something we feel very proud of. People seem to love it"
Currently, a total of 14% of all pre-paid trips made across London are now made via contactless payments, totalling 60 million trips over the last six months. Contactless usage seems set only to continue, expect it soon at a train station near you.
Are you a Londoner? Have you ditched your Oyster card for contactless travel?