Discover Expands Tap and Pay Amid Rise in Contactless Transit

transit payment

Discover is expanding its Tap and Pay solution to a series of global transit agencies.

The company said the contactless payment solution is now available for cardholders using transit agencies in Spain, Poland and Taiwan, according to a Wednesday (Jan. 18) news release.

“As commuting continues to change and riders expect flexibility in how they pay, transit agencies are migrating to contactless payments at a faster pace than anything seen in the past decade,” Discover said.

According to the release, Discover has been working with transit agencies in the U.S. since 2012, forming partnerships in Chicago, New York City, Albany, Dallas and Portland.

Emily Foshee, the company’s vice president of core network products and delivery, said accepting contactless payments can “help transit companies drive volume, lower operating costs, and decreased cost of fare collection.”

But as PYMNTS noted last year in a conversation with Visa’s Nick Mackie, getting the technology in place to meet consumer demand for contactless payments can be easier said than done.

“Public and mass transits are a real tough nut to crack,” said Mackie, Visa’s head of global mobility, noting the complexities dotting the payment mechanisms and modalities in play as people move from one form of transport to another.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. Mackie argued transit industries have an interest in streamlining ticketing, and don’t want to deal with the cost of issuing paper tickets at all.

“What we’re solving here,” he said of Visa and payments firms like it, “is making it so that tapping the device can be your ticket.”

The agencies and the operators have taken note of the urgency of the overhauls — as Visa said, not a single project was canceled through the pandemic — even as ridership was down as much as 10% to 20%, depending on the city.

“But the forward-thinking transit operators are poised to capture demand when it rebounds fully,” PYMNTS wrote, as “more than 500 agencies are operating on open-loop payments.”

Discover’s announcement came one day after Mastercard said it was working with Portuguese mobility platform Ubirider to expand its transit services.

The collaboration will leverage Ubirider’s Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform Pick, bringing more efficient and sustainable digital payment and ticketing to transport companies.

“The management of public transport systems varies from country to country, from city to city, and even between operators,” the companies said in a news release. “However, there is a common thread between almost all public transport operators: All of them struggle to manage and integrate several technological platforms into their operation.”