Credit card companies have a new plan to kill train tickets in Britain

You may be able to use contactless payments to pay for anything from a bus ride in Manchester to a train in Inverness in the not-too-distant future.

A financial industry body has created a “framework” to help a national roll-out of the technology — potentially hastening the death of traditional train and bus tickets.

Right now, contactless payments are widely used for public transport in London, letting people get around with a quick tap of a compatible payment card or smartphone. But much of the country still does things the old-fashioned way.

To help address this, the UK Cards Association, which represents the card payment industry in the UK, has launched a new national framework that “sets out how contactless cards can be used to pay for pay-as-you-go journeys.”

This doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to tap in on a bus in rural Wales tomorrow. But a single, unified framework means that, when implemented, users will be able to use the same card up and down the country, and know how it will work.

The framework is exploring three different “models” on how payments can work. The first is the standard pay-as-you-go: the user taps in for a journey and gets charged a single fee. Pretty simple. Alternatively, there’s “aggregated” pay-as-you-go. This adds up all the fares the user pays using contactless over the course of the day, and then charges them based on any existing deals (fares may be capped for one day as part of an automatic travel card, for example).

Thirdly, there’s pre-purchase. This way, users buy their tickets in advance (online or at the ticket office) as normal. But instead of getting a ticket, their card becomes the ticket, and is used as a form of identity. If widely adopted, this could let train operators do away with tickets altogether.

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