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    Mar 02, 2016

    Tap credit, debit card to pay for transport?

    COMMUTERS may be able to use their "contactless" credit and debit cards to pay for bus and train rides in future, as part of a new payment option the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is exploring.

    With the system, commuters can tap their credit cards in and out at train station fare gantries or on bus card readers, just like using stored-value fare cards.

    But there will be no need for top-ups. Commuters will be charged for their trips through their credit or debit cards, similar to a post-paid telco subscription or a utility bill.

    Details of the payment process for debit cards are still being worked out.

    A tender was called by LTA yesterday for a consultancy study into this account-based ticketing system to gauge its feasibility.

    The study is expected to start in the second quarter of this year.

    "Should the account-based ticketing pilot be successful, Singapore would be one of the few cities in the world to adopt this fare payment system," said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong.

    "Commuters can look forward to having more choices for fare payment without the hassle of topping up their fare cards," he added.

    In London, a similar payment system called Contactless has been implemented on buses since 2012, and on the train network two years later in 2014.

    For such a system to be rolled out here, the software of fare gantries and card readers on buses have to be upgraded to accept credit and debit cards that have EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chips. These are "contactless" as they do not have to be swiped like the usual bank cards.

    Such cards are already available in the market, such as Visa's payWave and MasterCard's PayPass.

    In London's Contactless system, commuters can track their journeys and fare history, and apply for refunds through a web account on the Transport for London website.

    It is understood that LTA will also have a similar web portal, should its system take off.

    LTA said a trial will be conducted in the fourth quarter of this year. Besides the tender for the consultancy, another will be held to appoint an "acquiring bank" to process payments made.

    Public relations consultant Celina Lim, 27, said it would be convenient to use her credit card for train and bus rides.

    "I don't have to top up my fare cards anymore. During the rush hours in the mornings, the queues at the top-up machines at the MRT station can be very long," she noted.