But fraud experts have warned commuters that the price to pay for being able to tap on and off with their bank cards, rather than smartcards like Opal, could be high.
While transport bosses have warned that there’s the real risk passengers could be charged twice if they tap on wrong in future. A spike in lost cards is also, well, on the cards.
On Monday, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, said a contactless payment trial would begin in 2017 which could see people ditching their Opal cards forever.
Similar to smartcards, passengers will tap on at the barriers but with their debit or credit cards, with the fare deducted directly from their bank account. There will be no need to top up ever again.
“Contactless payment with credit and debit cards would offer customers another easy to use and convenient option for travelling,” Mr Constance said.
London is a pioneer of smartcard systems, introducing the Oyster card in 2003. In 2014, Londoners began tapping on and off with bank cards with 25 per cent of journeys, or more than a million each day, now paid for via debit and credit cards.
However, the transition has not been without its problems and has even led to a whole new word entering the lexicon of Londoners — “card clash”.
Speaking in Sydney on Monday at the Future Transport Summit, Transport for London’s Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said the city’s transport authority had to educate customers to not fall victim to card clash.
“We had to warn customers to keep their debit card separate from their Oyster cards because, if you don’t do that, there is the slight possibility that you might be charged on the wrong card,” he said.
The problem arises because if a passenger keeps all their cards together, and places their whole wallet or purse above the reader, they could tap on with one card and then tap off with another.
Alternatively, people with multiple bank cards have found the fare deducted from the wrong one.
In the August 2014 run up to the official launch of contactless payments in London it was estimated some 2000 transactions every day were occurring on bank cards without the knowledge of travellers who thought they were using their Oyster cards, reported the London Evening Standard.
In some cases, Londoners have even taking to wrapping the card they don’t want to use in tin foil to prevent it from being accidentally charged.
Mr Verma said it was important to be on the front foot to avoid angry commuters and London’s card clash campaign had “worked out very successfully”.
But don’t tell that to the public transport users who, in an attempt to avoid card clash, then lost their cards altogether.
In February 2015, it was revealed more than 2000 lost smart and bank cards were handed into London Underground and rail stations every month following the introduction of contactless payments.
The Mirror reported that in the entire year before contactless cards only one month had seen more than 2000 cards handed in and much of the time the figure was less than 1000.
It appeared, that in the panic to tap on with the right piece of plastic, Londoners were doing a quick card shuffle before they reached the barriers and scattering the whole lot across the station floor losing some in the process.
But a far more concerning worry is fraud.
CEO of FraudWatch International, Trent Youl, told news.com.au the extra handling of bank cards could leave people vulnerable.
“Since contactless payments have become the norm, there has been an increase in physical credit card theft.
“If public transport, which is used by so many people, is added to the uses for contactless payments, one might expect that physical credit card theft may continue to rise.”
Even keeping hold of their cards might not be enough, he said, if personal bank data is hacked from transport databases.
“The consumer can do nothing to prevent this from occurring, and just using this type of system once will ensure their credit card details are stored within a database for an unknown period of time.
“It is highly likely that a holder of a large amount of consumer’s credit card details will be a major target for online attack, and in this day and age, one can almost assume that this type of database will be breached at some point,” said Mr Youl.
The President of US based Cubic Transportation Systems, Matt Cole, which runs the Opal system, said Australians were already using their bank cards to tap on and off. In fact, data from London shows Australian issued bank cards are second only to UK cards when it comes to entering the Underground.
He disagreed that using bank cards led to a new security concerns.
“There’s certain security measures you have to go through to provide protection to a system that accepts credit and debit cards.
“But that’s no different to a smart card system where you can add value to a card like an Opal, so much of those security requirements already exist,” said Mr Cole.
“Essentially what you’re doing is changing the location of that transaction from the web or vending machine to the turnstile itself.”
A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW told news.com.au that commuters would continue to be able to choose between Opal or bank cards and a contactless rollout would include a “comprehensive customer information campaign” on the use of credit or debit cards when travelling.
“A lot of critical work needs to be undertaken in the first stage of this project such as finalising partnerships, working with the finance and contactless payments sector, developing the software and then in 2017, undertaking a customer trial,” she said.
“Transport for NSW takes data security very seriously and will work with the finance and contactless payments sectors to implement rigorous industry standards on system security.”
It is also important to note the video from MuthBusters who were banned from talking about RFID chip used by VISA and American Express.
See video at: