Mobile phones are so popular nowadays, so why don’t transit agencies around the world decide to move to mobile ticketing?

The reason is stemmed from the availability of a technology that can support most of the smartphone and have a fast transaction speed like the legacy smart card.

The current technologies and their problem:

1. Technology-based on NFC (Near field Communication)

nfc logo

NFC is the technology used in the legacy smart card for automatic fare collection (AFC). By incorporating an NFC chip inside a smartphone can enable the smartphone to be used as a legacy smart card.

With the launch of Apple Pay, NFC based payment in 2014, people believe that NFC will be the ultimate solution for AFC.

However, on the Android side of the smartphone, NFC is getting unpopular especially for the high volume low-end smartphone under US$ 200. This is a major setback for NFC is a solution for AFC.


2. Technology-based on QR code

QR code

With the popularity of 2 payment giants in China, Wechat Pay, and Alipay, the QR code-based payment method suddenly gain popularity in China as well as in Asia.



QR code payment method is available for all smartphones (IOS and Android OS). Unlike NFC based payment, QR code-based is an online payment system that requires server verification for the transaction. The transaction time will take more than 3 seconds. This speed is not acceptable for public transportation, especially for busy cities.
In China, there is a work-a-round using off-line based QR code payment by trusting that the user will have sufficient funding. This is workable in China because all smartphone users have to register their name and personal information and get verified.
This kind of registration will not be acceptable to most of the countries in the world due to the privacy act.

In conclusion,

the legacy smart card will still be the mainstream in the market for the next 5 to 10 years.

To learn more about the legacy smart card AFC system:

Post Author: Keith Lau

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