If you’re wondering when mobile Near Field Communication (NFC) payments will hit the London Underground, you might be in for a bit of a wait. According to a spokesman the technology simply isn’t fast enough to replace those Oyster Cards just yet.
While NFC technology will allow you to purchase a number of goods and services with compatible smartphones during this summer’s London Olympics, travelling through the capital’s underbelly won’t be among of them. Transport for London’s experience director, Shashi Verma, has been telling GigaOm why.
According to Verma, TfL “carried out tests on NFC in both 2008 and 2010,” but apparently “during both of these tests we found that the technology was not fast enough to complete the transaction in under 500 milliseconds, which we would require.”
You might think that 500 milliseconds sounds like nothing at all in the context of your average daily commute, but when you consider that the current Oyster Card system scans users through in 300 to 350 milliseconds you’ll realise that this would be a significant step back for one of the world’s busiest underground systems.
Back on street level Samsung and Visa have teamed up to let you purchase goods using your smartphone during the 2012 Olympics. Not only has the Samsung Galaxy S3 been named the official Olympics Games Phone for the competition, Visa has created the payWave app to facilitate mobile payments at any of the 140,000 contactless payment points dotted throughout the UK.