New York City subway will replace MetroCard with Apple Pay tap-to-pay starting in 2018

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The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday approved a new $573 million contract that will see subway turnstiles support contactless payment services, including Apple Pay on iPhone and Apple Watch.




The MTA's new plan appears to move away from the MetroCard system, where funds are stored on a swipeable card, in favor of a pay-per-use model using existing NFC payment technology. That will include Apple Pay, as well as Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and NFC-equipped credit cards, according to The New York Times.

Currently, New York's MetroCard system requires users to pre-fill a card that can be swiped at the turnstile. Moving away from the system should expedite travel, as users will no longer receive swipe errors, nor will they need to visit a kiosk to refill their card.

However, the MetroCard will remain for the foreseeable future, working in tandem with the new tap-to-pay functionality through at least 2023.

In the interim, The MTA will begin phasing in the new NFC payment terminals at 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses by late 2018. The more than half-billion-dollar contract calls for all subway stations and buses to have support for Apple Pay by late 2020.

The MTA first put out a call for proposals for a new fare payment system in April of 2016.

Of the world's 10 busiest metro systems, only New York City and Mexico City have yet to implement contactless fares.But Mexico City is on schedule to beat New York City with its first tap-and-go cards launching through Mastercard in November.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    If this were an Apple-exclusive thing, people would panic that thieves would steal our iPhones right out of our hands at the turnstiles!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 29
    AI_liasAI_lias Posts: 281member
    Wow, so everyone will have to buy iPhones then, based on the headline?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 29
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,355member
    AI_lias said:
    Wow, so everyone will have to buy iPhones then, based on the headline?
    The article covers this:

    "However, the MetroCard will remain for the foreseeable future, working in tandem with the new tap-to-pay functionality through at least 2023."
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 4 of 29
    payecopayeco Posts: 288member
    Now I will be able to get to the platform more quickly and easily to wait for my delayed train!
    macxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 29
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Wait will the knockoffs piggy back Apple’s hard work or not?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 29
    "only New York City and Mexico City have yet to implement contactless fares." Er, not necessarily true. Would've been true if you've said the MTA, but there is also PATH (which operates in tandem with MTA, and the MTA's MetroCard *can* be used to gain entrance to the PATH system) which operates inside NYC, has had contactless payment cards, called SmartLink, for 10 years now.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    If they say late 2018, my money is on 2020 but good news, regardless
  • Reply 8 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    cali said:
    Wait will the knockoffs piggy back Apple’s hard work or not?
    Come on! Apple didn't invent NFC-based payments, and even if we consider the work they did to make Apple Pay secure by keeping the financial institutions in control instead of Google's previous setup fo running everything through their own partners, this is not an area where you need to be pointing fingers as all adoption is good for the safety of the consumer. IOW, the more the merrier.
    jony0dasanman69
  • Reply 9 of 29
    anomeanome Posts: 1,258member

    It is interesting that of all the places I've been in the US, NYC is the one that uses what now seems an antiquated cardboard card. I realise that updating the entire Subway system is non-trivial, so it makes sense that they've taken longer than most to update, but it does mean one fewer cards in my collection of international travel cards. (Although maybe I'll get a card anyway, since credit card fees, plus ForEx fees might make using Apple Pay more expensive, if a lot more convenient.

  • Reply 10 of 29
    cali said:
    Wait will the knockoffs piggy back Apple’s hard work or not?
    Did you just read the headline and comment?
  • Reply 11 of 29
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    If this were an Apple-exclusive thing, people would panic that thieves would steal our iPhones right out of our hands at the turnstiles!
    Any negative story leads with Apple regardless of Apple exclusivity. 

    Witness any negative article on Airpods (wireless headphones). 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 29
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    anome said:

    It is interesting that of all the places I've been in the US, NYC is the one that uses what now seems an antiquated cardboard card. I realise that updating the entire Subway system is non-trivial, so it makes sense that they've taken longer than most to update, but it does mean one fewer cards in my collection of international travel cards. (Although maybe I'll get a card anyway, since credit card fees, plus ForEx fees might make using Apple Pay more expensive, if a lot more convenient.

    Philly still uses tokens! They are just rolling out the paper tickets. By 2050, Philly will start using NFC. 
  • Reply 13 of 29
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,142member
    cali said:
    Wait will the knockoffs piggy back Apple’s hard work or not?
    WTF you talking about? People have been doing this YEARS before Apple Pay was even a thought in other countries. 

    I have no doubt that the Metro will have more iPhones at first using this, but Apple did NOTHING to invent in this space. It’s all tech that’s been there before. 
    dasanman69
  • Reply 14 of 29
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,851member
    Couple of things to consider...
    1. Many users will still need to keep a metrocard handy until contactless payments are available system wide.
    2. I could be wrong but I would think that one of the options for users would be a pre-loaded card for those who would prefer that instead of hitting a debit/credit card with dozens of small charges all the time. Like any gift card that can be used through the Wallet. Personally, I'd rather load up an electronic metrocard once a month than see lots of small charges pinging my account each week.
    3.What's the option after 2023 for people who don't have smartphones tied to bank accounts or credit cards? There will be those people.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,355member
    cali said:
    Wait will the knockoffs piggy back Apple’s hard work or not?
    JR East debuted their contactless IC card called Suica in 2001, the same year Apple unveiled the iPod. Tokyo Metro rolled out their Pasmo card in 2007, the same year Apple unveiled the iPhone.

    Contactless payment methods have been around for a looong time.

    I think NTT DoCoMo started putting the Suica IC chip in some of their phones around 2005, so Tokyo commuters were swiping their phones at train fare gates and convenience stores before there were iPhones.

    Apple is not the innovators in the contactless payment system world.
    edited October 2017 tokyojimu
  • Reply 16 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    mike1 said:
    Couple of things to consider...
    1. Many users will still need to keep a metrocard handy until contactless payments are available system wide.
    2. I could be wrong but I would think that one of the options for users would be a pre-loaded card for those who would prefer that instead of hitting a debit/credit card with dozens of small charges all the time. Like any gift card that can be used through the Wallet. Personally, I'd rather load up an electronic metrocard once a month than see lots of small charges pinging my account each week.
    3.What's the option after 2023 for people who don't have smartphones tied to bank accounts or credit cards? There will be those people.
    1) That's the way these things work, but on tech forums people like to think in terms of all-or-nothing—maybe it's human nature. Apple Pay retailers have a 50% saturation rate after 3 years, which is why I predicted would happen, and I'd say we're right around a tipping point for it with nearly every card from every financial institution, nearly all other smartphones have a equatable service, and with more and more countries coming onboard every few months.

    2) The next step is getting more than just CC and debit cards to use Apple Pay. We've already seen some support for loyalty and store brand cards so I wouldn't be surprised if  even next year we see that adoption grow. For example, NFC-based payments that not only let you use, say, a Starbucks card that you reload, but also auto-select that as default because the vendorI ID of the terminal (or even a geofence) tells the iPhone which payment option is mostly likely needed. I'd also like this to further select different cards for, say grocery v restaurant v fuel, as I may use different cards for different types of purchases or particular stores.

    The difficult part, logically speaking, is to have a single NFC usage that will use my loyalty card and make a payment. For example, I'm at the grocery store where I use a loyalty card to get discounts and then use a CC to pay. This may require two NFC-based transactions to do both steps so I don't have to input my phone number or pull out the barcode on my keychain, but I don't want to choose from 5 different loyalty cards and CCs on each NFC tap make that happen. I'm not sure there's a solution until the NFC handshake can be more verbal.

    3) Let's work on an option for 2018 before we think about "what ifs" in 2023. They can always extend Metro Card card use in the future. It's not like CC has made the check obsolete or the check has made cash obsolete. Hell, fax machines are still commonly used in 2017 and will be used for the foreseeable future (which I find irksome).
  • Reply 17 of 29
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    mpantone said:
    cali said:
    Wait will the knockoffs piggy back Apple’s hard work or not?
    JR East debuted their contactless IC card called Suica in 2001, the same year Apple unveiled the iPod. Tokyo Metro rolled out their Pasmo card in 2007, the same year Apple unveiled the iPhone.

    Contactless payment methods have been around for a looong time.

    I think NTT DoCoMo started putting the Suica IC chip in some of their phones around 2005, so Tokyo commuters were swiping their phones at train fare gates and convenience stores before there were iPhones.

    Apple is not the innovators in the contactless payment system world.
    You need to consider their system, not just RFID-based payments. What Apple did is more than the communications protocol. It would be like saying the iPhone wasn't innovative because LCD-based touchscreen already existed for decades.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 18 of 29
    I moved to NYC from Seoul in 2003. I couldn't believe how backwards the NYC subway was. Including the lack of contactless payments. I figured at the time it would surely be no more than a couple of years before they caught up. Turns out it took a couple of decades.
    tokyojimu
  • Reply 19 of 29
    anomeanome Posts: 1,258member
    jungmark said:
    anome said:

    It is interesting that of all the places I've been in the US, NYC is the one that uses what now seems an antiquated cardboard card. I realise that updating the entire Subway system is non-trivial, so it makes sense that they've taken longer than most to update, but it does mean one fewer cards in my collection of international travel cards. (Although maybe I'll get a card anyway, since credit card fees, plus ForEx fees might make using Apple Pay more expensive, if a lot more convenient.

    Philly still uses tokens! They are just rolling out the paper tickets. By 2050, Philly will start using NFC. 
    I can never remember if I've been to Philly or Pittsburgh. Either way, I didn't use public transport. I was only there for a few hours, and walked to where I wanted to go.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 29
    I moved to NYC from Seoul in 2003. I couldn't believe how backwards the NYC subway was. Including the lack of contactless payments. I figured at the time it would surely be no more than a couple of years before they caught up. Turns out it took a couple of decades.
    And just wait till you see how slow is our broadband in comparison...
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