Subway To Accept Contactless Payment as it Preps for Google Wallet

The giant Subway sandwich shop chain has said it will accept contactless payment at more than 7,000 locations in the United States, as it gears up to support the Google Wallet.

Subway, the largest restaurant chain in the United States in terms of outlets with more than 24,000 locations, is only committing to accepting contactless at about 30% of its U.S. sandwich shops for now, a spokeswoman told NFC Times.

MasterCard Worldwide announced the Subway rollout today, saying that the 7,000-plus stores will be ready to accept MasterCard's PayPass contactless payment application by the end of the first quarter of 2012. The terminals will also accept other major contactless payment brands, including Visa payWave.

The rollout is a boost for PayPass, which is accepted at about 140,000 merchant locations in the United States, including about 12,000 McDonald’s restaurants.

“It is definitely a big step forward in that category of merchants,” Mario Shiliashki, MasterCard’s senior vice president and group head, U.S. emerging payments, told NFC Times. “Our goals aligned with Subway’s–a convenient, fast and ultimately better (checkout) experience.”

But the Google Wallet launch and the prospect for contactless-mobile payments in general–not contactless payment from cards–are driving Subway’s move to accept PayPass and the other major contactless applications in the United States.

Both Subway and MasterCard are participating in the Google Wallet, which officially launched Sept. 19. Subway is one of 22 merchants so far supporting the wallet or planning to do so, according to Google. A Subway spokeswoman indicated the 7,000 stores would be concentrated in five cities, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. These are the cities where Google Wallet is first rolling out.

“This initial 7,000-store rollout is aimed to gain consumer acceptance of mobile payments and to address any technical issues that may come up,” the spokeswoman told NFC Times. She added that the purchasing cooperative for the 7,000 franchised Subway outlets that is overseeing installation of the contactless terminals views the rollout as sort of a trial run. It will “look to the results to drive a decision regarding future rollouts.”

She added, however, a larger rollout could take place in 29 states.

The 7,000-plus stores would not accept contactless mobile coupons or other offers from NFC phones at first, waiting until “we have a bigger mobile footprint,” she said. That might mean Subway is waiting for more phones to support the Google Wallet. At present, only Google’s own Nexus S 4G, sold through wallet partner Sprint, can run the wallet. And only four merchants at present accept coupons or other nonpayment applications in the Google Wallet.

While the contactless card rollout in the United States began more than six years ago, the technology has yet to take off in the United States. Backers are counting on the day when consumers can access their contactless payment, offers, ticketing and other applications in such NFC-based wallets as the Google Wallet and a similar wallet planned by the Isis mobile operator joint venture to spur interest among both consumers and merchants.

MasterCard’s Shiliashki said mobile offers and other nonpayment incentives on NFC phones will be important in helping to excite consumers and merchants, but he added that “offers is not necessarily the first thing that merchants in quick-service restaurants look to.”

They are also interested in speed and convenience, he said.

Subway has more than 35,000 locations worldwide, making it perhaps the largest restaurant chain of any type in terms of outlets. 

HEADLINE NEWS

Budding MaaS App Hits Milestone for Public Transit Tickets but Share of Total Rides Still Low

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based trip-planning app Transit announced it has enabled 500,000 rides from its app for a group of 13 small to mid-tier transit agencies based in the state of Ohio, though mobile ticketing still makes up a small percentage of total rides provided by the agencies.

Insight: Apple Pay Launch of Virtual Closed-Loop Virtual Clipper Card Follows Emerging Trend

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Although the trend for transit agencies to support open-loop fare payments, including with Apple Pay, Google Pay and other Pays wallets, has continued unabated–even accelerated–during the pandemic, another trend is taking shape: That of agencies adding virtual versions of their closed-loop fare cards into the Pays wallets.

First Transit Agency to Sell Tickets Through Uber App Sees Relatively Few Takers Two Years on

Apr 21 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Regional Transportation District of Denver was the first transit agency to work with Uber to sell its bus and light rail tickets through the Uber app in the spring of 2019. RTD later that year expanded the service to trip-planning app Transit and then last fall to the app for another ride-hailing service, Lyft.

Sydney to Test Multimodal Payments Involving Private Mobility Providers Using Digital Closed-Loop Card

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – A trial to be held later this year in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, if it proves successful, could offer one example for how agencies can encourage customers to take multimodal transport combining public and private operators. The economics behind the New South Wales government’s trial offer are unclear, however.

Rome Transit Operator: Covid Accelerates Demand for Contactless Payments but Customer Habits Hard to Change

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The CIO of Italy’s largest public transit operator, ATAC SpA, said the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated demand for open-loop contactless and mobile payments, but added that old habits are hard to break for customers and use of cash and paper tickets are still popular.

Dubai Transit Authority Plans to Launch Its Closed-Loop Card in More NFC Wallets

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, or RTA, which in December first launched mobile fare payments with a digital version of its closed-loop card in Huawei smartphones, says it plans to expand the service to other OEMs, including Apple and Samsung.

Case Study: Transit Agency in Portugal Combined NFC with BLE for Mobile Ticketing; Faced Challenges

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The agency that runs ticketing for 19 public bus, tram and train operators serving Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, says it has had success–and faced several challenges–with the rollout of its Anda mobile-ticketing app.

OMNY Hits New Usage Milestone as Open-Loop Payments Rollout Continues

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, says it continues to see steady growth of its open-loop fare payments service, OMNY, announcing 50 million taps by customers using NFC wallets and bank cards to ride the massive New York City Subway and the city’s buses.

In-Depth: Contactless Open-Loop Pilot in Spain First Project from Vendor Partnership

Mar 11 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Bilbobus, which operates bus service for the city of Bilbao, in northern Spain’s Basque region, says it launched its recent trial of con

Moscow Metro Plans Rollout of ‘Face Pay’ Technology for Fare Collection

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Moscow Metro plans to roll out facial-recognition technology at every station by the end of 2021 to enable customers to pay fares, officials say. The project, while delayed, would be the largest of its kind globally.

Stockholm Transit Agency Launches Open-Loop Fare Payments for Multimodal Rides

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Stockholm Public Transport, or SL, the city-owned company that oversees major public transport in the city, is the latest agency in Europe to launch open-loop fare collection, offering multimodal rides with a tap of a contactless EMV bank card or NFC device.

Case Study: Amsterdam Transit Operator Seeks to Go Nearly 100% Digital for Ticketing to Cut Costs and Enhance Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – GVB, Amsterdam’s largest public transit operator, says it seeks to replace an aging closed-loop fare card system and go to open-loop and other digital tokens with the planned rollout of its new account-based ticketing system.