New contactless technology will allow commuters to pay for travel on the Underground with their bank cards [Credit: TfL]

Contactless payment on Tube from September

The London Underground will accept contactless card payments from September and EE customers will be able to tap in and out with their phone.

The switch will mean that customers are able to use their contactless credit and debit cards in the same way as they currently user Oyster contactless pre-payment cards, but with charges made directly to their accounts eliminating the need top up.

Transport for London (TfL) has been carrying out a trial involving around 3,000 underground users, and is now ready to roll out the scheme fully on September 16,  though users can still sign up for the trial on the TfL website before the launch.

Shashi Verma, TfL's director of customer experience, said "Offering the option of contactless payments will make it easier and more convenient for customers to pay for their travel, freeing them of the need to top up Oyster credit and helping them get on board without delay."

As well as the pre-exiting daily capping system, which limits the amount paid by customers in any one day to the price of a daily Travelcard, a new Monday to Sunday cap for contactless payment users will see TfL's advanced system automatically calculate the best value fare over the course of the week.

Prices will be the same as those currently offered to Oyster customers and a single payment will be sent back to banks each day, which will be marked as TfL-related, with users able to track their use online, similar to those who already have an Oyster card.

TfL are also encouraging tourists to set up contactless payment, rather than trying to obtain an Oyster card.

"Equipping yourself with an oyster card is still a tedious process - if you have the misfortune of arriving at Victoria or King's Cross there are huge queues," said Verma. "From our perspective and from a consumer perspective, the contactless system is better. We'll be encouraging them to start using it - Oyster is not broken, the point is we have a better system.”

Network provider EE has also announced plans to extend its Cash on Tap app, which takes advantage of near-field communication (NFC) technology found in some smartphones and can be linked to a bank account, so that it can be used to scan in and out of the Underground network.

Gerry McQuade, chief marketing officer at EE said: "Users of the world's greatest tube network will shortly benefit from the latest in mobile payment technology, allowing them to use their phone to pay for their daily commute.

"As more and more people benefit from the simplicity, convenience and security that mobile contactless payments offer, it's rapidly becoming clear that the days of the physical wallet are fast becoming numbered."

When the contactless payment scheme launches on September 16, EE says the app will be compatible with around 500,000 Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One. The free app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

Graham Peacop, managing director of the UK Cards Association, said: "This is a major step for contactless cards. Usage is already growing rapidly this year, with London leading the way, and the introduction of contactless payments across the capital's transport network means we expect this surge to continue.

"Our experience shows that, once people see how fast, easy and secure it is to pay with a contactless card for travel, they then make the switch from cash for other small payments too."

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