SOURCE: The Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance

October 04, 2010 10:44 ET

Leaders From Transit and Payment Industries Share Visions on Open Contactless Payment at Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council Meeting

PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ--(Marketwire - October 4, 2010) -  The Smart Card Alliance brought together leaders from transit operators, bankcard issuers, payment brands and technology providers from around the country at its two-day Transportation Council meeting, at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority / New York City Transit headquarters in New York City on September 22nd and 23rd

The group shared visions on the opportunities of open payment, and discussed the challenges of getting there. Open payment for transit involves accepting contactless credit, debit and prepaid payment cards and devices for fare payment at the turnstiles and fare boxes of the nation's subways, regional railroads and buses.

"Contactless open payment for transit is real. It's happening now," said Craig Roberts, chair of the Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council and Manager for Technology Development at the Utah Transit Authority, the first U.S. transit operator to accept open payment system wide.

Other agencies are moving forward too. At the conference, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) discussed plans to issue an RFP for open payment systems by year-end and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) is evaluating proposals that include open payments for an upcoming award. 

The New York MTA with New York City Transit (NYCT), Port Authority New York New Jersey (PANYNJ) and NJ TRANSIT are currently conducting a joint pilot to test open payment acceptance, the second such pilot in the New York area. The pilot includes nearly 500 points of purchase in the New York-New Jersey region, including over 350 NYCT and NJ TRANSIT buses, 28 stations on the MTA's Lexington Avenue Subway Line, 11 PATH stations and the Newark Air Train station. Attendees at the Alliance conference were given a tour to see open payment in action in New York's subways and buses and PATH trains, courtesy of the MTA and PANYNJ.

While New York has not announced its final decision on open payment, the agency is very seriously examining its potential. New York MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder told meeting attendees that the next wave of positive transformative change for the industry would be determined by how transit operators use technology and information in new fare payment systems. "We want to be like Macy's, with a system that's simpler, better and cheaper," said Amy Linden, senior director of New Fare Payment Systems for the MTA, referring to the MTA's desire to act like a merchant that accepts multiple forms of payment at the point of service entry. 

Representatives of New York's leading credit card issuers, Chase, Citi and Bank of America, all expressed their commitment to continue to support transit operators' contactless open payment initiatives. Speakers from American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa also made strong statements of support for open payment in transit. 

Nonetheless, accepting payment cards at a turnstile or on a moving bus is not the same as a merchant location. Transactions must be fast and flawless, and as public services, transit systems must continue to accommodate all riders. These and other challenges were discussed in depth from all points of view at the Alliance event.

"The Alliance is the venue where a whole host of service providers, the issuers, payment brands, and transit authorities can get together and understand each other better, so we can work together more effectively and move forward to serve our mutual customers," said Steve Frazzini, VP/Chief Officer, AFC Program Management & MetroCard Operations, MTA New York City Transit.

"The breadth of the stakeholders represented in this group and the very high level of participation is a great testimony to the role our Councils play in helping to accelerate the widespread use of smart card technology in transit and contactless and mobile payment," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.

ACS, MasterCard and VeriFone were Gold Sponsors for the event, and Booz Allen Hamilton, Cubic and Accenture were also sponsors. The New York MTA, New York City Transit, PANYNJ and NJ TRANSIT were the event hosts.

For more information about the Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council and to view available resources, visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org/pages/activities-councils-transportation

About the Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council
The Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council is focused on promoting the adoption of interoperable contactless smart card payment systems for transit and other transportation services. The Council is engaged in projects that support applications of smart card use. The overall goal of the Transportation Council is to help accelerate the deployment of standards-based smart card payment programs within the transportation industry.

About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. 

Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.

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