Apple as expected has enabled Apple Pay users to pay for fares on Transport for London-run trains and buses without first authenticating themselves on the NFC devices. Apple already offers Express Transit for closed-loop transit cards in Japan, Beijing and Shanghai, along with the phased-in launch of open-loop payments in New York City and also with closed-loop cards in Portland, Ore.
• Transport for London
(This premium article was originally published in December 2019. © Mobility Payments and Forthwrite Media.)
Apple has expanded its Express Transit service to another major market, enabling Apple Pay users to pay for fares on Transport for London-run trains and buses without first authenticating themselves on the NFC devices.
It is not the first Pays wallet to enable this feature in London, and the move by Apple was expected. But it is, nonetheless, a significant development. And Apple is also reportedly allowing users with newer iPhones and Apple Watches to tap out at the end of their journeys even if their devices run out of battery power. Moreover, mobility app provider Citymapper also has launched support for Apple Pay in London with its subscription-based Citymapper Pass.
Express Transit enables riders to avoid using Face ID, Touch ID or entering a passcode on Apple’s NFC devices before tapping to pay at gates of the London Underground, on board London buses and on other Transport for London modes of transit. In the past, riders in London–where 20% of pay-as-you-go transactions are made with NFC smartphones or wearables–usually had to prearm their devices before they got to the train or bus POS terminal– that is, they would authenticate themselves before getting to the front of the line at the turnstile or on board the bus. Those who tried to authenticate at the gate or when boarding sometimes caused delays for other customers.
Apple already offers Express Transit for closed-loop transit cards in Japan, Beijing and Shanghai, along with the phased-in launch of open-loop payments in New York City and also with closed-loop cards in Portland, Ore. It’s not the only Pays wallet that enables users to avoid authenticating themselves when they pay for rides. Samsung Pay, for example, also offers this feature in some markets, including London, and plans to do so with its forthcoming support for closed-loop transit payments in Taipei.
When riders use closed-loop or open-loop EMV contactless cards to pay fares, they, of course, do not have to authenticate themselves. So the trend is for NFC wallet providers to offer the same service. Of course, Pays wallets users will still have to authenticate themselves when paying with their NFC devices at retail stores.
Users of contactless cards for fares also don’t have to worry about running out of battery power, since cards draw all the power they need from the transit terminal. Apple is also reportedly enabling users of its XS, XR and later iPhones and Apple Watch Series 4 or later to complete the transit payment for up to five hours after the power fails to illuminate the screen and allow other apps to function on the devices.
That would come in handy, for example, on the London Underground, where users must tap in at the station where they begin their journey and tap out at their destination. If they are unable to tap out, they would be charged the maximum fare for the trip.
While a device going dark because of low power isn’t common, it’s occasionally mentioned as a drawback to using NFC Pays wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, to pay fares, as compared with contactless cards or passive wearables, such as analog watches. The contactless chips embedded in these passive wearables also draw all of their power from terminals. Now with Apple’s new feature, users needn’t worry when they are in the middle of their transit journey and they notice their devices are running low on power.
Meanwhile, Apple Pay also is supporting payments for subscription-based mobility app Citymapper in London. The app and the Citymapper Pass subscription service offer maps, routing and payments. Citymapper launched its Pass and a Mastercard-branded Citymapper Pass contactless card this year. The card can be used with various Transport for London modes of transit. It also can be used or is planned for use to pay for bicycles and taxis in London that users access via the Citymapper app. Other transit modes are planned, as well.
The Citymapper Pass card can be loaded into the Apple Wallet to support Apple Pay, according to Citymapper, which says it also supports Google Pay. An article reportsthat Citymapper timed the launch of the Citymapper Pass on Apple Pay with the introduction of Express Transit in London.
A Citymapper spokesperson was not immediately available to say whether the company plans similar NFC-enabled service in other cities where the mobility app operates.
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