Orange, Vodafone Customers Can Pay with a Beep on Bucharest Subway (April 9, 2013)
Orange and Vodafone customers now can use their mobile phones to pay for trips on the subway in Bucharest, Romania. The system this month is being expanded to the city’s entire 51-station metro network after testing in seven stations last year. Customers can purchase tickets by sending a text message to a special number. A payment confirmation text is then sent to the customer, who then places the phone near a validation reader at the station entrance. Using “data-over-voice” technology from mobile transaction technology provider Margento, the phone makes a beep that is recognized by the reader, which validates the purchase and grants access to the metro platform. Customers can buy one, two or 10 tickets at a time and can check remaining trips via text. Metro operator Metrotex said the program’s pilot last year was a success, with more than 10,000 transactions processed.
A number of other cities around the globe have been exploring the use of contactless payments for transit. In February, the Utah Transit Authority announced it would work with InComm to launch a contactless prepaid card for payment on buses and trains in Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, in Singapore, a group led by Gemalto Pte Ltd. is developing an NFC payment system that can be used for mass transit tickets, among other functions. And last August, Chicago’s Transit Authority brought its contactless fare payment system to the city’s suburbs, expanding a deal with Cubic Transportation Systems that the company says was already the largest transit-oriented public-private partnership in North America, worth more than $500 million.