Riding a London bus is about as pleasurable as trying to saddle a twitchy rhino that has decided to charge at the slightest perceived threat. But the business of bus-based travelling through an ancient city designed with horse and cart in mind might be set to get a teeny bit easier - at least for EE customers with NFC-enabled Android smartphones.
The phone network is the first to announce that its users can bonk to pay whenever they hop on a London bus.
Starting from today, the EE army can rely on the "simplicity, convenience and security of mobile payments" whenever they flag down an Uncle Gus.
Pippa Dunn, chief consumer marketing officer with EE, said: “More people use London’s buses than all the other bus services across the country combined, so the need for speedy and simple payment solutions is paramount.
“That’s why we’ve been working hard to bring our contactless mobile payments service, Cash on Tap, to TFL’s network – removing the need for customers to queue for a ticket, or hunt through their pockets and bags to find the right card”.
Eventually, Cash on Tap will allow EE customer to bonk on any form of London transport they wish. Instead of whipping out an Oyster card, travellers just expose their (NFC-enabled) mobe to a sensor and then travel freely.
The Cash on Tap application is operated in partnership with Mastercard and is available for free via the Google Play store. The app is limited to a list of NFC-enabled Android phones listed here, and customers will also need an "NFC SIM".
Apple's iPhone currently doesn't contain NFC tech, but it does have a contactless payment solution in the works called the iWallet. It is rumoured that it will use the firm's Touch ID fingerprint sensor to verify a customer's identity along with Bluetooth Low Energy for the contactless payment and could be launched in the autumn alongside Apple's iPhone 6.
Pay-by-bonk is expected to go live across all public transport when Transport for London’s own contactless payment system opens on the London Underground, DLR and Overground network from 16 September.
Most Londoners make payments for journeys with an Oyster card, which can be pre-loaded with cash and season tickets, sometimes in combination with a train ticket. But the Oyster will soon be plagued by a recently invented phenomenon known as "card clash", which means customers could find themselves double-debited if they have another contactless card close to the Oyster (for example, in their wallet) when they bonk it.
Research released today from Juniper has suggested the total amount of digital payments made from PCs, tablets and mobiles will amount to some £20bn this year, meaning that 16 per cent of all household bills are paid using digital dosh.
"This trend is being driven by a growing consumer acceptance of transactional digital banking, and the sharp rise in mobile banking adoption overall," Juniper said.
"The report finds that usage will continue to increase over the next five years as consumers, especially Generation Y users, opt for a multiple and immediate channel approach and use the mobile channel increasingly to manage their accounts."
EE customers can already use their phone to pay in McDonald’s, Caffè Nero, Pret A Manger and Greggs across the nation, which should make them even less pleasant to sit next to on a superheated London bus. ®