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Backers of contactless payment in the United Kingdom hope mass transit might fuel the rollout of the technology. The head of card payments for the UK Cards Association says "transport is emerging as the critical application" for contactless payment in the UK. "Transport is the thing that really becomes a key area of focus for the banking industry," Paul Rodford of the issuer-backed association, formerly known as APACS, said during the recent Contactless Cards and Payments conference in London. "Billions of journeys, frequent transactions and low ticket values lend themselves to the contactless proposition." Sandwich and coffee shops and other quick-serve establishments, which often congregate in and around transit hubs, are natural acceptance points for the faster transactions contactless technology offers, he added. Transit agencies in the UK, most notably Transport for London, which oversees bus, underground and most other modes of mass transit in London, have expressed substantial interest in enabling consumers to directly pay their fares using contactless EMV bankcards. Transport for London now collects fares mainly with its closed-loop prepaid Oyster card. Shashi Verma, head of the Oyster program, said at the same conference the authority could be ready to accept bankcards directly at the gate or onboard buses by 2011, though he said much work needs to be done before that happens. One reason UK bankcard industry representatives are looking to transit as a major driver for contactless is the slower-than-expected take-up of contactless payment in the UK since its launch in September 2007. While nine financial institutions are issuing contactless payment cards in the UK, only one major bank, Barclays PLC, along with its Barclaycard credit card arm, generally are issuing contactless cards. And as of April, there were only about 9,000 contactless terminals installed in the UK, mainly in London. Moreover, no major chain has yet gone beyond the trial stage or agreed to accept contactless cards. The UK Cards Association predicts about 15,000 terminals will accept contactless payment by the end of the year with about 5 million EMV cards supporting contactless in circulation by that time. Barclays and Barclaycard will account for the vast majority of those cards. 

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