I just don't get it. Why the excitement about combining an Oyster card with a mobile phone? According to The Guardian, O2, Barclaycard and Nokia have successfully completed a trial that saw 500 guinea pigs use the as a cashless wallet, as well as a fairly boring phone. According to the article, it was a roaring success and it may roll out commercially before the Olympics arrive in London.
But is this really such a good idea? It may seem like it would be handy to wave your mobile on a reader and automatically pay for a packet of crisps at the corner shop, or to fly through the barriers at Euston station without reaching for an Oyster card, but how comfortable would you be doing that in reality?
I'm not so sure I'd fancy fumbling for my shiny, new, expensive phone at midnight on a badly lit, deserted Tube platform, or paying for some polos in a late-night Costcutter. I might as well slap a sticker on my forehead saying 'Go on, mug me. It's worth it'.
The whole idea seems to go against common sense and police advice (the mobile phone crime unit says 'don't advertise your phone to a thief').
Now I'm no fan of carrying around a pocket full of coins, but this is surely one convergence idea too far. A better idea is one card that combines cash and Oyster functions in one. Yes, there's still a risk, but it feels more like one I can live with. Barclaycard does it with its OnePulse, so why not the other banks?