Arriva Liorbus and SAD Prievidza both introduced the virtual Mifare-based cards to customers in the spring. Compared with transit agencies serving such major cities as San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Melbourne, Australia; the two bus operators in Slovakia show how smaller agencies also can put their cards into Google’s NFC wallet.
• Table: Major pays wallets and closed-loop cards
• SAD Prievidza
• Arriva Liorbus
• NXP Semiconductors
Two mid-tier bus operators in Slovakia are among the latest to enable their customers to tap virtual closed-loop transit cards in Google Pay to pay fares, using a provisioning service from NXP Semiconductors.
Arriva Liorbus and SAD Prievidza both introduced the virtual Mifare-based cards to customers in the spring. Compared with transit agencies serving such major cities as San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Melbourne, Australia; the two bus operators in Slovakia show how smaller agencies also can put their cards into Google’s NFC wallet, NXP noted.
SAD Prievidza told Mobility Payments, the agency is supporting the virtual cards in part to attract younger riders. The agency has a fleet of 280 buses and carries around 12 million passengers a year, serving a west-central portion of the small Central European country.
“A large number of the passengers are young people, who use smartphones and various applications on a daily basis,” Linda Delgado Turcerová, who handles marketing for SAD Prievidza, told Mobility Payments. She said Android has around an 80% share of the Slovakian smartphone market, adding that the transit agency will also support Apple NFC devices with its closed-loop cards as soon as possible.
Riders for the two Slovakian agencies already tap closed-loop, stored-value Mifare DESFire or other high-end Mifare cards on validators to ride buses in the regions the agencies serve. And they also use a popular Ubian transit app developed by systems integrator TransData.
To pay with a virtual version of the fare cards in Google Pay, customers first activate the cards in their Ubian apps. They can top up value on the cards or buy period passes there. The virtual cards automatically get saved in Google Pay, using a cloud-based Mifare 2GO platform to securely deliver the cards to Google’s wallet on various Android devices. The provisioning service, which is already integrated with Google Pay, also has delivered high-end Mifare cards in Melbourne, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.
Google recently began allowing customers in these cities and others, including those served by the two transit agencies in Slovakia to buy the cards directly in Google Pay, or at least initiate the purchases there.
Closed-loop fare cards supporting ITSO technology in Birmingham and elsewhere in the West Midlands and also in the Tyne and Wear area of the UK also support Google Pay, but users apparently can’t buy the cards directly in Google Pay, at least not yet.
Google isn’t the only operator of a Pays wallet that is seeking to support more closed loop fare cards, in addition to contactless EMV credit and debit cards, in their NFC wallets. Apple, Samsung and Huawei, among other OEMs, are also supporting closed-loop fare cards, as Mobility Payments has reported.
Delgado Turcerová of SAD Prievidza told Mobility Payments that the agency plans to also accept contactless EMV credit and debit cards for fares in the “near future,” but needs to first replace its bus validators. “A tender for the replacement of suburban transport equipment is currently under way,” she said.
As for adoption of mobile-payments with the virtual cards by customers of SAD Prievidza, two and a half months after the launch, user numbers were only in the hundreds, a fact which that Delgado Turcerová implied was caused by the pandemic. “Currently the situation in Slovakia is improving and in recent weeks the number of passengers has been increasing,” she said. “SAD Prievidza expects a more significant increase in the numbers of new virtual transport card users in upcoming months.”
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