Moscow transport officials and Sberbank are testing a SoftPOS app to expand the reach of the closed-loop Troika card in Russia. Open-loop payments will also be accepted.
Contactless open-loop payments doubled in only around the first 10 months of 2021, with more than 92 million passengers having passed through Moscow Metro gates for the year after paying with contactless EMV cards or credentials in NFC wallets. That was already nearly twice the contactless ridership of 52 million in 2020 and 30 million contactless rides in 2019.
• Moscow Metro
• Moscow Dept. of Transport
• SberTroika joint venture
A joint venture of the Moscow city government and state-owned Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, has launched a test of a mobile-POS app for bus drivers to use to accept fare payments from the closed-loop Troika card along with contactless bank cards and NFC wallets.
The joint venture, SberTroika, said the new app is intended for transit operators in regions where buses or other mass transit vehicles do not have validators. Customers using the single Moscow bus route that is participating in the test so far can tap their Troika cards, their contactless bank cards or these credentials loaded into NFC mobile wallets on the bus drivers’ smartphones. SberTroika’s “Tap-to-Phone” app processes the transactions and then produces a QR code, which customers could scan to get a receipt.
The launch is part of a strategy by the joint venture partners to expand closed-loop Troika throughout the country as a “single” or “unified” ticket system, according to Moscow’s deputy mayor for transport, which runs the giant Moscow Metro system. Sberbank is serving as an acquirer.
Of course, the effort to create a national fare card has a long way to go as it seeks to spread Troika across Russia’s 11 time zones. Since the fall of 2020, SberTroika has launched mainly trials of Troika in 12 cities or regions, including Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city and capital of Siberia; the Rostov region, Leningrad region and Perm territory. Troika is accepted on validators on board buses and some trolleybuses and trams in these cities or regions.
Late last month, the venture launched Troika acceptance on more than 1,000 buses and 4,000 other vehicles serving Moscow Oblast, the region around Moscow.
Separately, the Moscow Department for Transport last month also began rolling out a virtual Troika card on NFC-enabled Android phones for wallets connected with Google Pay and Samsung Pay. As it expanded its trial of this virtual card last fall, the city predicted that around half of all Moscow Metro riders would eventually adopt the digital version of Troika. Apple Pay is expected to support the card, as well.
On the acceptance side, the latest use of SoftPOS technology represents only a small part of the effort to expand Troika throughout Russia. Use of SoftPOS smartphone acceptance devices would also expand the reach of open-loop payments.
Regarding open-loop, in general, Moscow Metro in November said it was accepting contactless EMV payments at 963 turnstiles on its metro system and was to equip 35 more by the end of the year.
All told, contactless open-loop payments had doubled in only around the first 10 months of 2021, with more than 92 million passengers having passed through Moscow Metro gates for the year after paying with contactless EMV cards or credentials in NFC wallets. That was already nearly twice the contactless ridership of 52 million in 2020 and 30 million contactless rides in 2019. The agency originally launched contactless payments in 2015. Still, open loop still makes up a small percentage of total rides on the massive metro system.
While SberTroika calls its new SoftPOS app Tap-to-Phone, it is not apparently related to Visa-developed technology of the same name designed to turn smartphones into POS terminals. SberTroika said of its smartphone acceptance app: “This is a completely Russian development.”
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