[Dave Birch] There was an interesting development in the world of payments and cards recently when the Utah Transit Authority went live with a new ticketing system that accepts contactless payment cards as well as contactless tickets: not as a pilot or trial but as a live system supporting the three main brands.

UTA’s new EFC system accepts major contactless credit and debit cards such as Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass and American Express expresspay for a single adult cash fare on more than 600 buses and a fleet of light rail and commuter rail trains.

[From Utah Transit Authority Showcases Open Payment System – Government Technology]

Mass transit has become a focus of activity and innovation in the contactless world, not just because of the scale of mass transit systems but because of two intersecting drivers that lead to a win-win. From the transit side, many operators don’t actually want to run ticketing systems if someone else can provide a working payment solution.

The MD of London Underground Tim O’Toole said the ability to use near field communication-enabled phones and other next-gen ticketing tech on London’s public transport will be enabled by the new deal.

[From Oyster deal lights touchpaper for new tech makeover – Financial Services – Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com]

There has been one interesting barrier to the integration of payments and transit in certain markets, and that is that the ISO-based contactless interfaces and the Felica-based contactless interfaces have required separate chips. This has now changed, as the Moversa joint venture between NXP and Sony starts to bear fruit.

Moversa will unveil the capabilities of its latest security chip – the Universal Secure Access Module (U-SAM) – at this year’s Mobile World Congress. The chip manages contactless smart card applications, regardless of protocols and operating systems, in Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile devices… Moversa’s U-SAM supports two of the most widely installed contactless smart card technologies in the world, NXP’s MIFARE™ and Sony’s FeliCa™ systems, as well as a number of other contactless operating systems and applications. The chip will enable mobile device manufacturers to design products which are interoperable with existing contactless infrastructures.


It’s a terrific time to be looking at the future of cards in that space, as mobile and contactless technology continue to revolutionise the customer experience.

These issues will surely be covered at SMi’s Retail and Transport Cards conference in London on 13th and 14th May 2009. I’m going to be running the contactless boot camp alongside the event on 12th May 2009, so if you want to hit the ground running in the world of contactless why not come along?

Incidentally, the wonderful people at SMi have given me a delegate pass for this event — worth an astounding ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE POUNDS (plus VAT) — to give away on this blog as a competition prize. So if you are going to be in London on 13th and 14th May and you’d like to come along to hear some of the leaders in the field discussing retail and transport cards, then all you have to do is be the first person to respond to this post with the (generally accepted) name of the very first Pony Express rider, who left St. Louis, Missouri, on 3rd April 1860.

In the traditional fashion, this competition is open to all except for employees of Consult Hyperion and members of my immediate family, is void where prohibited and is projected to be carbon neutral in the near future. The prize must be claimed within three months. Oh, and no-one can win more than one of the Digital Money Blog prizes per calendar.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


  1. Johnny Fry is credited as the first westbound rider who carried the pouch across the Missouri River ferry to Elwood, Kansas.

  2. i just came across this site. fantastic! I’ll be posting on this topic shortly, and will send it along. josh

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