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Shoppers in the British capital will be able to buy Underground tickets and newspapers with a wave of their mobile phone rather than cash during a trial that started this week.

Hundreds of people have been given special handsets fitted with a built-in credit card and Oyster card, the device used to pay for train and bus tickets in London. When the phone is passed over a scanner in stations or shops, money is deducted from the mobile phone as payment.

People can spend up to 10 pounds at a time at selected shops and cafes, including cafe chain Coffee Republic, alcohol retailer Threshers and book shop Books Etc…

Organizers say that if the six-month London trial is a success the scheme could be extended to include bigger payments, more shops and concerts and plays.

Will this become a hacker’s playground?

  1. eyeofthetiger says:

    I have visions of large checks with an old hag in watermark print. Marketing the human rat is getting so perplexing. I need to lay down. Wake me up when I get to touch the red button with honey. Eventually, London will reinvent itself into a synthetic sive. The Queen will outwear herself on the rabbit. Then we will go back to cobble stones and scenic fairy tale ventures out in wooden grooves.

  2. moss says:

    Meet you at the Waterworks Museum. Or Upton Park.

  3. ijsbrand says:

    This is more interesting for pickpockets than for hackers, I reckon. Most of these “pay with your phone” pilots use near field tech, or in other words, simply a RFID-chip in the phone.

    Granted, RFID communication could be read from a greater distance with a tweaked receiver, perhaps, for which some hacking would be needed. But I do think that’s so obvious, something wii have been found to overcome that security flaw.

    No, just think how much more even the most plebeian phone will be worth, to steal, if it’s a wallet as well.

  4. Improbus says:

    Thanks, I think I will use old fashioned cash.

  5. BubbaRay says:

    #4, Improbus, “Thanks, I think I will use old fashioned cash.”

    There is this myth that cash is still tender for all debts, public and private. May it remain so.

    Until you try to write a check for a truck that’s $25 large. Then you run up against that “over $10,000” baloney designed to stop drug traffic. Like that’s ever done any good.

  6. genome895 says:

    This is a bad idea altogether. People loose their phones or they are stolen all the time, and what about all the phones that are dropped in the toilet. How are you going to pay for anything then. It would be an interesting scene someone on a date at a fine restuarant go to the bathroom and like a million other idiots drop their phone in the toilet. Well there goes dinner; better try sneaking out the window.

  7. mike cannali says:

    This sounds like RFID in the phone – similar to the cards used at the gas pump here in the US.
    Problem with RFID – the RFID response code can also be read by anyone passing by you and then counterfieted.

  8. BRC says:

    I just thought I would point out to all the non-Brits:

    Oyster cards already exist. They are credit card sized, RFID cards, that you can topup all over london, and then use to pay instantly (at the barriers) for train and bus journeys.

    This is simply taking that card, and plonking it in a phone – there will be absolutely no difference. It will still need to be in very close contact with the scanner, will still be toped up the same way.

    The difference is rather than a thief having to steal your Oyster card and your phone, he can just steal the phone.


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