14 2 mins 15 yrs


Speaking of swiping, which is pretty much everywhere and for everything these days, the combined Oyster card, Barclaycard and "errr, lunchtime snack, booze, book & paper" card, acc. to London Underground blog, launched last week. The Onepulse card combines an Oyster card which we use on London Transport, with a credit card and a cashless way of paying for items under ten quid. These currently include Books Etc, Chop’d, Coffee Republic, EAT, Krispy Kreme, Threshers and YO! Sushi. So you’ll be able to swipe the one card at the aforementioned shops to pay for your food and drinks.

A cab driver told me Ken was thinking of asking cabs to have swipe pads installed so that people could also pay for cab rides with their Lobster. Sean Gardner, chief executive of a price comparison service site, said it was another step towards a cashless society. He enthusiastically called it  "a genuine advance in the credit card industry and looks set to cause a real stir in London. Experts have been predicting the end of cash for years and this looks set to be another step in that direction."

Some of this seems like a great idea. But not all of it.  I dont like being card dependent, cash is sometimes faster and easier for transport and Im not at all keen on having money ‘banked’ in this system. What say you?

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14 thoughts on “Lobster it

  1. I can’t see London cabbies going for it. They’re traditionally a bloody-minded group who won’t be inclined to go along with Red Ken on anything, although I assume they’re in favour of the congestion charge as it must have boosted their business.

  2. Why do we need government to do this? Why can’t the private sector do this if it’s so great? What will it actually really genuinely cost? How can it be abused? How will they make sure it won’t be?

    Doubtless satisfactory answers to such questions will not be forthcoming from Red Ken.

  3. Another thing which is not commonly known about the ‘Oyster’ card is that the memory of it’s use is ‘addressable’! In other words, the computer logs your every move on the Underground, on buses, and, if Himmler Livingstone gets his way, inside taxis as well!

    So your every move on all public transport, along with recordings from the highest concentration of CCTV cameras in the Western world, is at the beck and call of one of the most illiberal Authorities ever seen in Britain.

    Don’t get me wrong, some CCTV is helpful but does TfL really need to know exactly where you are, where you’ve been, and, coming soon to a computer near you, where you are heading!

  4. Indeed Mike – i realised that when i had to get a journey verified to prove id paid for it. It will be interesting when they hand the card over to the private sector – and they have all that information plus your spending habits too!

  5. So they’ll know the user’s every move by London Transport, their every financial transaction using credit or debit, and then every move on cabs, too, which is most likely more a question of ‘when’ than ‘if’.

    And we have, what is it? 20% of the CCTV cams in the entire world in this one little country?

    And some people are just worried about whether cash or card is faster?


  6. I live in London and regularly use public transport, I have so far chosen not to have a car since I’ve been back here, and the Oyster has proved to be a great success. This extension of "swiping" for small purchases will be simpler and much faster. So I’m all for it.

    Oh and I’m unashamedly a big supporter for Red Ken and Transport for London. Transport here is better than ever in my experience (unless you use the trains between London and Cambridge or Stansted Airport)

  7. Combining the oyster with debit and credit card seems very silly and violates a fundamental security rule (never aggregate targets). So now if you lose your card you’ve lost 3 things, not one. Similarly stealing your oyster card as you walk out of the tube station just got a whole lot more attractive.

    Also what is lost with the moves away from cash is of course anonymity. In the days of the ten pound note you could go buy something, including a train ticket, and nobody felt the need to ask who you were. You could also lose your wallet and you’d just lose the notes that were in it, not all the money in your bank account.

    There are real electronic versions of cash too (anonymous, untraceable), but instead we have these identity based schemes and all the problems above. Another interesting thing about them is that they create money (a thing that is normally frowned upon by central banks) – i.e. if you lodge £10 to your oyster card then for a while there is £20 in the system, because you and the card vendor now both have £10 to spend.

  8. Frank et al,

    I too live in London and always have an Oyster card on the go. I wasn’t asked to provide any personal/identificatory details to obtain it…

  9. Alexander,

    As far I know you have to give an address at least?

    Also as soon as top one up with a bankcard I assume they can make the connection easily enough.

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