5th February 2018


Lloyds Bank customers have been banned from using their credit cards for Bitcoin purchases.  Whilst Ed. believes that any such transactions would be barking mad, he considers that the arrogance of Lloyds in dictating what people may or may not spend their credit on is quite breathtaking.  Did the bank also play nanny and forbid us from buying shares in, er, Lloyds Bank when it was about to go bust?

From: Richard Sanders

I agree totally with Ed. Gordon Brown took far bigger gambles than this buying the toxic Halifax files and have never been brought to account.

From: Anonymous

Yes but you could argue that Lloyds is considering it gambling and many CC are banned from 7995 transactions.  But then there is a debate why are stocks and shares called investments that can go up and down but betting on the 3.55 at Newmarket based on a tip is called gambling after all your value can go up and down.

So it is just snobbery that means stocks, shares are considered investments or is that they have some underlying value to the asset you are purchasing, in which case Crypto is the 3.55 at Newmarket as a non FIAT currency it can be argued there is nothing backing it up.

From: Anonymous

Under consumer credit law, banks are “jointly and severally liable” for purchases made on credit cards. This means they effectively have shared ownership of the goods bought and is what underpins the fact that if you buy a holiday or kitchen appliance on your credit card, and something goes wrong, you have legal redress on the bank as well as the manufacturer/retailer (which may have gone bust, hence the protection). Thus if you are mad enough to buy some Bitcoin on credit and it halves in value overnight, you can theoretically make a claim on the bank for this loss – I am guessing that this has already been tried a few times already (maybe successfully – good story!!) which is why they have probably rightly banned these purchases by that method, since otherwise it would only end with us all paying for it..

That’s irrespective of what me might all think about Lloyds & the banking industry in general. Our US bank has just quadrupled our bank fees and when we complained they just sent us the forms for closing our account..

From: David Parker

The following link clarifies Visa's and Mastercard's recent statement that Crypto purchases from their respective cards will be treated as cash advances rather than purchases, thereby attracting much higher charges on the cardholder.



12th January 2018

Barclays Bank still penalise Android compared to Apple

From: Alex Lithgow Smith

I have to comment on the misleading Barclays article.

“The Barclays app does have a couple of advantages over Google Pay, for instance they will allow you to make contactless payments of up to £100 with supporting retailers whereas Google Pay is limited in the UK to £30 or lower payments.”

This is a complete misunderstanding by the writer.  Barclays allow you to perform a transaction of up to £100 full stop, whereas Google Pay (and Apple Pay & Samsung Pay) is unlimited on the handset (merchants may have their own upper contactless limits) and will simply go online for approval where appropriate.  The £30 is the current CVM limit, and applies just as equally to the Barclays app as to any other; it’s the reader that requires CVM for >£30, not the app.

The Barclays app also, however, allows you to additionally require the handset to ask for PIN (note, it doesn’t appear they support biometric on Android devices) for up to £30; i.e. to require explicit cardholder approval for every transaction.  Transit (TfL) never requires a PIN regardless of the setting.

BTW – Amex also have their own Android app, which I haven’t used since they joined Android Pay.

Another benefit is that if you lose your bank card, Barclays can enable your new card on their banking app before it’s even posted to you – with Google Pay you’d have to wait for the new card to arrive before you could scan it and add it to your account.

Again, nonsense.  If you lose your bank card, the contents of your Google/Apple/Samsung Pay wallet are completely unaffected (assuming you had added the card to the mobile device before losing it).  It’s only brand new cards where Barclays (and Amex on Android) may have an advantage.

Users of Android devices have a reason to be envious of customers with their iPhones.

Which may or may not be true, but isn’t really backed up by anything written here.

Barclays have had to bow down to the mighty Apple who point blank refused to let third party applications get access to their NFC chip effectively wiping out the ability for contactless payments via anything other than Apple Pay.

It’s a fair question to ask of Barclays as to why they won’t give Android users a choice. If the Barclays Contactless Mobile solution is so great then surely their customers will opt to make it their default service. If (especially for in-app and web payments) it’s not as good as they hope, then why not allow users to add their cards to Google Pay. Bearing in mind they’ve done it for Apple Pay it all seems a bit petty minded not to give Android users the same abilities with Google Pay… or am I missing something?

For any business operating as both card issuer and acquirer, as is the case with Barclays, transactions performed by their own cards on their own terminals can remain internal to the business and are therefore not subject to the card scheme’s processing fees.  By issuing their own mobile contactless payment app where possible, they can retain this complete control of the transaction and user experience.

For Apple, Google, Samsung, etc. the transaction has to pass through a third party (generally the card scheme) due to the tokenisation involved, and fees are therefore incurred (disregarding any other fee paid to Apple et al).

Therefore, where there is a choice, it makes sense to provide their own app rather than integrate with the third party.  Where this is not possible, the choice is either not provide the capability at all, and risk upsetting cardholders, or to reluctantly sign up.


9th October 2017

Government to invest £80m in smart ticketing
Computer Business Review

From: Anonymous

You won't be surprised that I have views on this.

The article is all over the place, conflating mobile ticketing with smart card ticketing, and making wild assertions. Essentially what is actually happening is that mobile ticketing is now becoming more and more available. I travel on the train three or four days every week across the country and it's months since I bought a ticket at a TVM. Obviously, I'm in a position to be interested and to make sure I have the right app for the right service (it's still the case that you can often not buy mobile tickets from the app of one TOC when your travel is provided by another - but the Trainline app fixes that, for a fee). So, yes, I can see that everyone would be able to use a bar-code by the end of 2018 (notwithstanding, there are some stations, Milton Keynes for example, which have gates that won't read a bar-code).

Actual "smart", as in smart card or NFC ticketing, is another matter. ITSO is at the early stages of delivering "ITSO on Mobile" - we're waiting for the 2nd focus group to be convened. As for RDG and DfT, I have no clue what they might be thinking.

Having spoken to Dave Busby at your excellent TCF17, I can say that the KeyGo pilot was more of a "proof of concept", based on wifi proximity and GPS rather than anything precise and specific. There's no link to the actual train you're on (other than inferring the train by cross-referencing location and travel direction with the time of travel - clearly not suitable for a really busy station). Nowhere near ready for deployment - even if it is viable.

As for "Pay as you Go" on National Rail, I can only assume that the author is having a laugh. Even if you could get it to work (and TOCs view gates as automated ticket checkers, rather than as participants in the price calculation), would anyone want to use it? One of the key determinants of how much you pay is when you buy your ticket. I can't see lots of people voting to pay the highest walk-up, premium fare when they can buy seasons and advance tickets that can be stored as bar-codes or ITSO cards.

Interest-ed's question about the £80m. Originally, TfN's £150m was an "up to" figure only to be spent against approved business cases. It would certainly have included implementation of smart in TfN-land. Now that the project has gone national, and as far as I can tell being run by DfT in London, they're saying £80m. Therefore, I conclude that at least part of the £80m is part of £150m - it's not clear how much. The really interesting question is, what are they going to do with the money? If they're going to get the job done by the end of next year, then they should know. I think we should be told.

9th October 2017

West Yorkshire's 'game changing' multi-operator smart ticketing app released
Intelligent Transport (press release)

From: Anonymous

I saw this article on Friday - it annoyed me then, and its annoyed me today.

I don't know who put out the press release, Molten Mouse I guess. I really must get better at PR, marketing and account management in general. The article gives a totally inaccurate impression of the actual state of affairs. Basically, the Molten Mouse app is a nice UI on top of Yorcard's Part 11 solution (Kafeneon) and Retail Services. It's the same software that underpins West Yorkshire kiosks (supplied by Cammax with Yorcard software) and West Yorkshire travel shop tills (supplied by Haven with Yorcard software), along with other implementations in South Yorkshire, York, and Go-Ahead.

I should know better by now.

1st September 2017
A row about ID cards lasted years and cost the UK billions. Then Theresa May scrapped them

From: Mike Duncombe

However, the thing is that a government issued electronic security certificate that could be used to authenticate you online and offline would be really useful.

For example, we could use it to electronically sign documents, thus getting away from the farce of printing, signing, scanning and emailing which is obviously so insecure and prone to repudiation. This would speed up transactions of all sorts that currently rely on a hand-written signature.

You would think that a secure electronic ID issued by the government would carry a lot of trust. It's a pity that people would sooner trust a private company like Thawte, or use a bank card as a means of identification, rather than trust the government.

23rd August 2017
North should 'take control' of transport, says Grayling

From: Mike Duncombe

This is what TfN wants to do - but DfT is not providing the powers that TfN is asking for.

The cancellation of the electrification plans tells you everything you need to know about the government's attitude towards transport investment in the North -at the same time as they spend billions on Crossrail2 and HS2 - both of which will just have the effect of expanding the travel-to-work area for London.

It's almost as if the government has forgotten that this is *one* country - it seems to be going down a taxation and spending policy route that supports spending in the areas that pay the taxes, rather than using taxation for the benefit of all equally. Home rule for a mixed economy North of England seems to be the logical end point, while the South-East joins the world of mega-rich merchant city-states!

10th July 2017
Oyster for the North

From: David Hytch

As pointed out by Transport Scotland there is a commitment in the contract won by Calmac last year to operate Ferries in the Western Isles to implement a smart card scheme for the ferry passenger and freight user by 2019. This also includes a commitment to integrate with bus and Scotrail using the ITSO capabilities on the operators cards.

To that end there is an active programme to go to market this year for the Smart Ticketing and Reservations scheme in conjunction with Transport Scotland, but being lead and managed by Calmac.

27th January 2017
The truth about contactless payment apps

Luckily the article did not come from UKCA, it just referred to it.
From the date format it looks as if it came from the US where they haven't got very far with contactless cards.
As you say, almost all the claims are wrong.  They apply better to contactless cards.
Where I disagree with you is the future of smartphones at POS.  Over the internet they will no doubt expand rapidly, but at POS, & particularly in mass transit, customer take-up is more than disappointing, & their future role less certain.