As coronavirus continues to pose a threat in people’s well-being, transit operators, together with Visa, now plan to integrate a contactless payment system in public vehicles.
It appears that, for coronavirus-wary commuters, contactless payment for public transportation is now critical to keep them safe and healthy. However, for transit operators, the pandemic has opened a new opportunity to realize and support its plan to switch to contactless payment.
Last week, the payment-solution company known as Visa announced its plan to build a new system that will allow “touchless” payments.
Visa rolls out contactless payment system in select cities
As per Visa’s announcement, the company aims to offer a contactless payment method for public transportation in more than 500 cities. The company is said to team up with Cubic Transportation System and will launch Visa-branded cards in various cities such as Sydney, London, Miami, and Vancouver.
“With open loop, contactless payments, riders can simply tap their contactless card or contactless-enabled mobile device at the terminal and ride,” Visa wrote in a statement.
The demand for touchless transactions, however, had dropped last April. The payment-solution company said that currently, it is still below pre-pandemic levels, but it made a slight rebound over the previous two months.
Visa also mentioned that its contactless payments project in some cities—Hong Kong, Turin, Brussels, and Santo Domingo, for instance—is already in use.
The U.S. fears security breaches
However, in the United States, the situation is different.
According to Greg Mahnken, a credit card analyst, the U.S. is reluctant to take the said system due to security breaches concerns as well as the lack of infrastructure to deploy it.
Yet it looks like the country needs to reconsider its stance, as Mahnken warned that “65% of cards will become contactless at the end of the year.” He also said that Visa and transit operators have the upper hand as commuters continue to seek safer ways to travel publicly.
In fact, Visa said that according to statistics, 50% of people living in the U.S. prefer safety protocols that will keep them safe as public transportation poses health risks amid pandemic.
Pandemic opens opportunity to reinvent public transport
On the other hand, the coronavirus pandemic has given transit operators the chance to pursue reinvention of public transportation. It happened that a touchless payment method is already in use and operators have been looking to fully implement it.
According to Visa’s global head of buyer and seller solutions Mary Kay Bowman, a contactless payment method is “partially available in segments of public transportation.”
In a statement quoted by Pymnts, Bowman explained:
“Transit systems took this as an opportunity to say: we cannot slow down; these are essential services. They saw that their work servicing the essential workers made them essential as well, and that they have to be part of the recovery.”
It appears that the pandemic has forced the implementation of contactless payment as the priority of transit operators.