Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting it Backwards

This is a perfectly reasonable transit payment instrument.
Transit systems shouldn't use NFC. Forget whether or not it's a problem that the subway now has your bank card. Even if everyone had a bank card, which they don't, NFC just isn't fast enough. The London Underground considered using NFC but gave up on the idea, because processing an NFC payment takes too long to get people through the turnstiles fast enough. Japan is a cash-based society, but NFC would likewise be too slow for use on JR's intra-city lines or the various Tokyo subways. Just let people keep using their Metrocards and set up auto refill.

If anything, we should be going in the other direction. Do what Japan did, and turn transit cards into a de facto bank card for unbanked individuals. Let people use them to pay at convenience stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and so on.
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