Open-loop contactless payments for Opal in Sydney
Contract awarded to Cubic Transportation Systems
Huawei and Xiaomi mobile contactless for closed-loop transit
Contactless technology remains the preferred interface for urban public transport
Source: NFC World
Summary: Open-loop contactless payments coming to Sydney in 2017. A contract has been awarded to Cubic to provide the necessary systems. With Huawei and Xiaomi mobile contactless supporting closed-loop transit in Chinese cities, urban public transport continues to use a contactless front end in most markets.
Point of View
The contract for an open-loop contactless payment card trial, announced in April 2016, has been awarded by Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) to Cubic Transportation Systems. In 2017, Opal intends to trial the use of open-loop contactless payment cards from the banks on its public transport network. The intent is to use the elements of the technology solutions used in London and Chicago, which Cubic also operates.
In China, where retail payments are dominated by mobile payments from Alipay and WeChat Pay using QR Codes, urban public transport systems continue to use contactless technology. In transit, unlike general retail, mobile wallet solutions from handset manufacturers are gaining traction. NXP recently announced that it has been working with Huawei and Xiaomi in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing.
Public mass transit systems tend to have very specific requirements. For example, on gated systems they require speed of authorisation to be of the order of 500ms. This constraint has limited the use of competing technologies, such as QR Codes (although QR Code are widely used for longer distance and single ticket journeys). As urban systems are controlled by the city authorities, in most cases they are implemented as closed-loop systems and tend not to interoperate with other cities. However, as shown in London, economies can be made when using open-loop payment cards issued by banks. Opal is the first in Australia to test this approach.
The move to accept open-loop payment cards requires changes to back-office ticketing systems to enable the calculation of correct fares and control of the payment submissions. The generic term for this is account based ticketing, where the payment card details are used directly for the payment or the card may just act as an identification token for the traveller. Collaboration is essential to ensure that a consistent approach is adopted across all card issuers, for which APCA plays a pivotal role.