The most innovative step a tech company can take is to understand that innovation isn’t an end in itself, but a means to make the daily lives of real people and business partners easier and more secure.
Technology to Improve Lives
To bring this ideal to life, Transport for NSW partnered with Mastercard to build a framework that supports an “open loop” contactless payment system for Sydney Ferries and Light Rail. It enables passengers to use their Mastercard like the current Opal card without being limited to one network, and turns a clever idea into a reality.
In an effort to provide simpler access to public transport across Sydney, Transport for NSW worked with Mastercard to bring contactless card payments to all Sydney Ferries and Light Rail services.
It’s an area with many potential rewards – any impact upon daily life needs to be taken seriously. Changes to public transport payments and travel times impact upon hundreds of thousands of people every day; they affect productivity, efficiency … and even the city’s mood.
Expanding Opal's Ease and Flexibility
Transport for NSW’s initiative for Sydney Ferries and Light Rail services is a government trial of a system to support the current "single-use" Adult Opal Single Trip ticket with a more flexible and versatile "many use" Mastercard. This could mean that commuters paying with a contactless Mastercard won’t need to queue to buy a ticket to use either mode of transport.
Perfectly suited for international and interstate travelers, anyone in Sydney can use their Mastercard to tap on and off Sydney Ferries and Light Rail without having to purchase an Adult Opal Single Trip ticket or understand the details of the fare system.
In the initial trial period, card holders from more than 42 countries benefited from the solution.
New Collaborations for Better Solutions
In collaboration with Transport for NSW, Mastercard are using innovative technology to make commuters’ lives easier. The goal is to support the NSW Government’s efforts to make public transport more accessible and improve the customer experience.
“... part of the Government's focus on adapting the technologies of today is to make the customer experience easier while testing ... technology for the future."
Innovation is about helping organisations that partner with us to reach their goals with better, faster, more-efficient and more-secure solutions.
“… anyone catching the ferry with Mastercard no longer needs to queue for a single Opal ticket and can simply tap … at the … gates,”
- Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance
Inside the Technology
Implementing contactless Mastercard payments on public transport means inventing solutions to overcome some technical challenges, such as the issue of payment speed hindering movement through the gates when tapping.
With thousands of commuters moving through the gates at peak periods, a payment transaction can't take the one or two seconds required for a standard retail contactless purchase. When large numbers of people are involved, the smallest of individual delays quickly expands into a major inconvenience.
Mastercard has international experience at solving such challenges. For example, while developing solutions for London's Oyster contactless payment system (essentially the same technology as Sydney's Opal card), Mastercard found a way to leverage secure contactless payment technology, greatly speeding up the process.
“A coffee shop payment takes … 1-2 seconds … Mastercard had to reduce ... that to 400 milliseconds.”
Real Change for Real People
Whatever comes as a result, it will be to the advantage of the end user. In Mastercard's view and that of their ongoing tech partners, the technological innovation of contactless transport payment is but one kind of example.