New Zealand trials mobile NFC payments for catching the bus

Whilst NFC is making its way slowly into almost every phone that's being released at the moment, we're yet to see it widely implemented to a point where it's actually useful. New Zealand, however, is jumping on the bandwagon early, announcing that they are trialling a mobile wallet based solution that will allow commuters to use their NFC-equipped phone to pay for the bus.

The trial is a collaboration between Auckland Transport, Telecom NZ and Westpac (a major bank), and the group are building a custom solution for the NFC trial (instead of using something like Google Wallet) that will be used as a standard for future NFC-based solutions in the country. The bus company already has a NFC card based system that has been used in other places in the world, such as the Oyster tap and go system in London. Despite this, it wasn't clear if mobile phones were compatible with the existing technology until now.

The trial only includes 30 staff from the participating companies, but is aimed to gain information to help the group build their payment solution. There's no word about what platform the solution will be built on, be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, nor about whether or not consumers should expect to see anything in the near future.

What's interesting about the trial is the carriers are building the payment solution, which means they will have a lot of control over the application and where it can be used. This could cause fragmentation in the NFC space if a competing carrier also built an application. It's great to hear that they're pushing ahead with adopting the technology so swiftly though; in a few years we might be able to rid ourselves of wallets altogether.

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7 Comments

With everything that's wireless...why can't a bus have wireless transactions at the fare box?

Sounds simple enough...get on the bus...swipe your debit card at the fare box...get a daypass or transfer pass.

Don't understand why it's taking so long for something simple?

texasghost said,
With everything that's wireless...why can't a bus have wireless transactions at the fare box?

Sounds simple enough...get on the bus...swipe your debit card at the fare box...get a daypass or transfer pass.

Don't understand why it's taking so long for something simple?

Frequently new technology eventually gets installed either when a cost saving can be made, or when it will attract new business. Ease and convenience don't go through business models.

texasghost said,
With everything that's wireless...why can't a bus have wireless transactions at the fare box?

Sounds simple enough...get on the bus...swipe your debit card at the fare box...get a daypass or transfer pass.

Don't understand why it's taking so long for something simple?


For a small operator technology deployment could cost too much. But for a large system large deployment spending could still be significantly lower than profits from increased capacity. Here in Moscow you can use debit and credit cards, though they are not popular.

Well with no iPhones having NFC atm I doubt NZ will be developing for iOS atm... they should just use google wallet or equivalent. It's gonna be a pain putting funds into yet ANOTHER "wallet"

I can see this system being good and bad

Alot of people who ride the bus: 1) Might not have a working cell phone and 2) might not have a debit card with money on it... I dont see this working in America at least.

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