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The NYC Transit System Could be Key to US Contactless Payment Adoption

The key to US contactless payment adoption

New payment technology may have the potential to make consumer experiences easier and more convenient, but if few people ever try it, adoption will be limited. When 100 million or so contactless payment cards are issued in the US this year, however, many consumers will have the opportunity to use them to pay transit fares and experience for themselves how easy it is to tap and go.

In an interview with, Daniel Sanford, Visa Vice President of Consumer Products and Head of Global Contactless Payments, says transit is the most significant use case that has driven contactless payment adoption around the world, and numerous metro transit authorities around the country will be ready for passengers to tap-and-go this year. For example, New York’s MTA, the largest transit authority in the US with more than 2.5 billion passengers each year, is upgrading turnstiles to accept contactless payments.

How Transit Changed Payments in the UK

In 2013, shortly after the technology was introduced, only about 3 percent of UK residents used contactless payments. Contactless payment usage in the UK grew incrementally until a turning point in 2015: The London Transport System began accepting contactless payments. By 2016, about 1 million transit passengers each day in the UK used contactless payments.

UK merchants responded to growing demand from consumers for fast, convenient tap-and-go payments, and contactless payments adoption boomed. NMI data reveals an increase of from about 1 million European and UK-based contactless transactions on its platform in 2013 to about 96 million in 2018. In 2017, for the first time, credit card payments exceeded cash payments in the UK, due, in part, to the adoption of contactless payments.

If the US follows suit, consumers who receive contactless payment cards this year and begin to use them for transit fares could ignite widespread adoption of the technology over the next few years.

Other Ways to Encourage Consumers to Tap and Pay

Giving consumers the chance to experience contactless payments doesn’t have to be limited to paying transit fares. NMI CEO Vijay Sondhi says charitable giving via tap-and-go payments can also allow consumers to try the technology.

NMI and contactless payment device manufacturer Payter worked with the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity in the UK to implement donation points along the charity’s sculpture trail, enabling visitors to use contactless cards to make small donations just by tapping or waving their contactless cards near a donation kiosk. Sondhi says initiatives of this nature “could add novelty and get people more used to contactless.”

Doing What Comes Naturally

US consumers, like those in other parts of the world, are always looking for easy and convenient payment experiences. Contactless payments, which use near-field communication (NFC) a form of RFID technology to wirelessly — and securely — transmit payment data to a merchant’s card reader is a simple and quick way to pay. The ease of use, faster transactions — and less waiting in line — is sure to appeal to US consumers. Is your business ready to meet the demand?

NMI is a payment gateway and contactless EMV Level 2 Kernel provider with years of contactless experience, to find out if we can help you with your contactless needs, contact NMI today.

NMI Team

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