Visa is rolling out contactless payments on public transport in 500 cities as the pandemic-driven demise of cash continues

  • Visa has expanded no-contact payments for public transportation systems to 500 cities around the world as the pandemic continues to disrupt how people pay for things.
  • The financial-solutions company said contactless payments have gone from nice-to-have for speed and convenience, to a must-have for safety reasons.
  • “65% of cards on the market will be contactless by the end of this year,” a credit industry analyst said.
  • Visa said nearly 50% of Americans feel that travelling via public transport poses a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
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With rising demand for safer ways to travel, Visa said it is now offering “touchless” payment methods for public transportation in over 500 cities. 

The payment-solutions company is launching contactless Visa-branded cards with Cubic Transportation Systems in cities including London, Miami, New York, Sydney, and Vancouver.

Visa’s tap-to-pay project is already live in Brussels, Bratislava, Bucharest, Hong Kong, Santo Domingo, and Turin, with more deploying quickly, it said.

Demand for contactless transactions reached a global low in April and were still below pre-virus levels but has substantially recovered over the last two months, Visa said, citing internal data.

“With open loop, contactless payments, riders can simply tap their contactless card or contactless-enabled mobile device at the terminal and ride,” the company said.

Citing statistics, Visa said about 50% of US citizens want better safety measures as they think using public transport poses a high health risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The US has been slow to uptake on contactless cards for fear of security breaches and lack of infrastructure to accept such payments, according to Greg Mahnken, a credit industry analyst at Credit Card Insider.

“65% of cards on the market will be contactless by the end of this year,” he said, citing a study that noted a 6% to 8% increase in cards using radio-frequency identification (RFID) because of the pandemic.

Coronavirus has spread awareness of contactless payments especially in Europe and non-US markets, but popularity in the US has been comparatively low – as was the case with chip cards when first introduced.

Chip cards, or EMV – Europay, Mastercard, and Visa – were prompted into payment systems due to a series of significant data breaches in the US.

But as consumers struggle with fears for personal health, the technology used in contactless payments will be favorably looked at from here on out, Mahnken said.

In case a customer does not have a contactless card, they may still load it into a mobile wallet and put in a fingerprint security for it to go right through, he advised.

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