NFC Payments Not Fast Enough for London Underground

The London 2012 Olympics are shaping up to be a staging ground for new technology, with the number of visitors attracted by the event making perfect guinea pigs for the testing of recent innovations.

Samsung has been kitting athletes out with NFC-enabled Galaxy S IIIs so they can use them to make contactless payments around the Olympic village, and travellers on the London Underground now have access to Wi-Fi, despite being around 50 metres below street level.

However, the underground’s governing organisation, Transport for London, has not been sold on the idea that Samsung has adopted. The authority has deemed that NFC payments are too slow for the transport network, claiming that they would increase queues at the already busy underground stations.

Shashi Verma, TfL’s customer experience director, told business technology website GigaOM that the  technology “was not fast enough to complete the transaction in under 500 milliseconds”, something that the authority says is a must to keep commuters moving.

The underground’s current contactless payment system, the Oyster card, is capable of making a transaction in 300-350 milliseconds. Oyster card uses RFiD, a technology to which NFC is seen by many as being a successor.

TfL has been trialling various types of mobile payments over a four year period but has now seemingly ruled out NFC, despite it being recently adopted by a number of leading phone manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC.


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