Singapore will be the first Asian country and one of the first cities in the world to pay for train and bus services by tapping their contactless Mastercard credit or debit cards. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has partnered with the credit card company, Mastercard to launch a trial of its account based ticketing system. Instead of topping up a smartcard, LTA wants to enable customers to use contactless systems and have their transactions billed on their debit or credit card, similar to a post-paid mobile phone bill. Whilst the initiative is already in place on London’s public transport network, LTA is the first in its region to also begin working on enabling mobile phones for contactless use on public transit. This will allow passengers to track their journey and fare history via a mobile app or web portal. The pilot will be launched on later on this month; LTA and Mastercard hope to attract at least 100,000 commuters to take part in the trial.
Cardholders who are accepted onto the pilot will be able to enjoy a “tap and go” fare payment experience by simply tapping their Mastercard contactless credit or debit card on the bus or MRT fare readers. They will no longer go through the hassle of having to carry and constantly top up a separate fare card, and instead will be conveniently charged for their public transport rides in their credit or debit card bill. Through the TransitLink ABT Portal or Mobile Services app, they will be able to track their journey and fare payment history.
LTA’s partnership with Mastercard goes towards furthering Smart Mobility efforts, one of the key pillars of Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. It is another step forward in the journey to tap on digital payment technology to enhance commuters’ mobility experience. For LTA, it follows an earlier initiative to enable Account-Based payment of ERP charges, where motorists are able to pay for their ERP charges using their credit/debit cards or via their bank account without a need for a physical stored-value card.
Mr Ngien Hoon Ping, Chief Executive of LTA, said, “We are pleased to partner Mastercard in this pilot. Singapore is one of the first few cities in the world to test this fare payment system for public transport. LTA is committed to leveraging technology advancements to provide more convenience to commuters. Account-Based Ticketing using contactless credit or debit cards will add another option to how commuters can pay for their public transport rides.”
However, the pilot will not include Visa debit contactless cards. The LTA explained that this is because it had worked with Mastercard in the early stages of development; "Nevertheless, we look forward to working with other payment schemes if we decide to implement a full-scale system." Additionally, the pilot test is expected to identify and address technical or operational issues faced by an account-based ticketing system, which will be more effectively achieved with just one scheme operator.
Ms Deborah Heng, Country Manager of Mastercard Singapore, said, “Apart from use on public transport, Mastercard contactless payments are already available in many popular retail and F&B merchants, as well as a large number of taxis. The introduction of Account-Based Ticketing in Singapore’s public transportation system is the latest in Mastercard’s commitment to deliver smart city solutions to Singapore. In the near future, we expect to broaden contactless access by enabling mobile and wearable devices for cashless use.
UOB head of personal financial services Jacquelyn Tan has stated that customers are already used to the contactless paying system on debit and credit cards. Ms Tan said the bank has seen a monumental increase of contactless transactions more than tremling to half a million last year, in comparison to 150,000 in 2015. Therefore it seems only natural to apply this to transport and improve each passenger’s journey.
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