In-Depth: NFC Wallet Use for Open-Loop Transit Grows but Still Makes Up Relatively Small Share of Contactless Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive – When New York City transit officials announced Tuesday that the 1 millionth ride paid for through their new OMNY open-loop payments service had arrived ahead of schedule, they also proudly noted that 80% of the contactless payments had come from NFC wallets, not physical bank cards. 

That is well above the percentage of payments from NFC wallets compared with bank cards that other transit agencies are seeing. NFC Times has learned that the percentage of transit payments from NFC wallets are only in the low to mid-teens, although are growing (see below). But the 80/20 ratio of payments from NFC wallet as compared with contactless cards that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, is reporting is a bit misleading, since most major U.S. banks only started to seriously roll out contactless EMV cards late last year. 

The MTA launched its OMNY open-loop payments service in late May as a large pilot at a limited number of subway stations in Manhattan and all buses in the borough of Staten Island. The authority said plans call for extending open loop to all of MTA’s New York City Subway stations and bus routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway, by the end of 2020, with the rollout of OMNY scheduled for completion by 2023, including adding commuter rail stations. That’s when the mag-stripe MetroCard would be retired. 

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