Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oysters Reopened

Anonymous (which is not a very helpful name for a correspondent) asked me "Just a quick question, why are you linking to a story that is over 12 months old saying 'look no further'?"

Well, in utter truth because I had Googled that story before I was referred to it by Andy, and caught the tag date "15 may 2007" and thought ah good, developments. Of course that was the date Google last spidered it not the actual date of the article which was very similar except one year earlier.. I blame 33 hours on a fery from Bilbao:-)

The ongoing story, as my anonymous corespondent pointed out, is that "TfL has already signed a deal with Barclaycard and Visa to launch a range of Oyster-branded credit and debit cards, which are also expected in the autumn."

However this isn't very exciting news. As already recorded here, Visa have already made it first into the contactless credit market in the EU with their payWave technology. The same article says that Mastercard and Amex are also on this route. A dual purpose Oyster card/credit card wil howeevr no doubt be a killer app (I'd get one myself).

But the real story for me here is the apparent death of the multipurpose stored value card. "Digital cash" of the 90s is dead ; long live contactless credit/debit (pace the nascent security problems no doubt about to emerge). I always had my doubts that in an era of bountiful credit, consumers could be persuaded to put cash up front in stored value AND carry an extra card around, whose loss, stored value and all, would (like cash) not be recoverable; this appears to have been the case. And the chances of Visa, Mastercard et al going bust are rather lower than with a pioneering digicash supplier. Interesting how the future is not always what we expect.

1 comment:

Alison Scott said...

As I already have a pre-pay Oystercard, with £20 stored value on auto-top-up, and as thousands of retailers across London already have Oystercard readers, I personally would be up for paying for newspapers, milk, chocolate etc in all those shops by tapping the oystercard reader. It sort of seems like a no-brainer and it's a bit of a shame that the idea doesn't seem to be going anywhere.