Visa to Improve Payment Experience for Commuters in Los Angeles and Paris; Working with Transit Operators to Enable Visa Payment at the Fare Gate

November 4, 2008 at 2:01 AM EST
No More Fumbling for Cash; Transit Operators in the World's Most Populous Areas and Visa Are Collaborating to Take the Hassle out of Payment for Mass Transit Commuters
PARIS & SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 04, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) today announced it is working with the Los Angeles transit authority to allow train, subway and bus riders to speed through turnstiles and past fare boxes with a simple wave of their Visa payWave-enabled contactless card. In parallel, Visa Europe(1) has announced it is collaborating with the Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), the major transit operator responsible for public transportation in Paris and its surroundings, to demonstrate that Visa payWave acceptance at a Paris metro fare gate is technically feasible.

Both initiatives are using Visa payWave technology, based on a tiny chip embedded in a payment card that communicates securely with contactless card readers over a very short distance. This means that riders can eliminate the time-consuming step of paying for a ticket at a separate machine or searching for cash -- the transaction is completed on Visa's global processing network, VisaNet. Visa payWave technology adds an extra layer of security to the transaction by attaching a unique code to each transaction, reducing the chance of fraud.

"Extending secure, convenient and reliable Visa payments to subways, trains and buses is a great example of how Visa innovations like Visa payWave can dramatically improve the experience for millions of commuters," said Tim Attinger, head of product innovation and development at Visa Inc. "By working with our transit partners in Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey, we hope to free busy transit riders from the burden of fumbling for change or searching for paper tickets. At the same time, transit operators can potentially reduce cash handling costs and ticket distribution, letting them focus on their core business of getting people where they need to go."

Los Angeles pilot

In Los Angeles, Visa is working with the LA Metro system to offer special Visa payWave cards that also incorporate the transit system's "TAP" fare application. These dual-use, prepaid Visa cards will let riders pay their fares and purchase fare products using their Visa account, while also allowing cardholders to make purchases anywhere Visa debit is accepted.

Two types of cards will be available through the pilot:

-- Ride, pay and reload cards -- sold through automated ReadySTATION kiosks within the LA Metro system, these cards will be active and ready to use immediately for both transit fares and Visa purchases everywhere Visa debit is accepted. Riders will be able to add up to $500 in value at the kiosks.

-- Ride, pay, reload and ATM cash access cards -- these are personalized cards with a maximum value limit of $10,000 which are ordered online or over the phone. Beyond a larger value limit the personalized cards have the added feature of a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for obtaining cash at ATMs. It will also function as a standard Visa prepaid card for purchases outside the transit system. In addition, cardholders will be eligible for free direct deposit of their paychecks directly to the Visa prepaid card account, providing added convenience and security over payment alternatives like checks and cash, for those riders without traditional banking relationships.

"Combining TAP and Visa payWave on a single contactless card is a great idea and delivers convenience and speed at bus fare boxes and rail station validators for LA transit riders," said Roger Snoble, Chief Executive Officer, at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "It also provides commuters with an easy way to reload and manage their LA transit accounts, while providing them with a Visa prepaid card that is accepted at any Visa debit acceptance location or ATM."

Paris Proof-of-Concept Pilot

Visa Europe is collaborating with RATP to evaluate the concept of Visa payWave acceptance directly at the fare gate. As part of this ongoing activity, the Visa exhibit at the annual CARTES conference, taking place in Paris this week, will feature an RATP gate set up to accept Visa payWave cards. The gate demonstrates that it is technically feasible for the existing Paris Metro gates to accept Visa payWave cards while continuing to accept Navigo, the local closed-loop card in use today. The system also demonstrated how Visa payWave cards can fulfill the special business and ticketing requirements of the Paris Metro. Visa's next step in this initiative is to expand the trial toward enabling Visa card acceptance at Paris metro fare gates.

"This is an important milestone," said Sandra Alzetta, Senior Vice President Head of Innovation at Visa Europe. "The Paris Metro system is one of the most technically sophisticated transit environments in the world and we have demonstrated that Visa payWave can indeed integrate with the existing gate system. Our solution proves that Visa payWave cards can provide additional features required by RATP such as the ability for an inspector to determine if a cardholder has paid for their journey and for the gates to track a cardholder's journey through the system to ensure they are charged the optimal fare."

Visa's Transit Strategy

Every day millions of people around the world use public transit -- commuting to work, going to shop, or visiting friends and family. For transit riders, speed and convenience are major factors, including when it comes to paying their fares. And for transit system operators, collecting fares and managing the payment and accounting systems can be costly and challenging.

The Los Angeles and Paris metro pilots are the latest transit programs that put Visa at the forefront of merging electronic payments technology with the fare collection needs of transit agencies around the world.

Visa's global transit strategy supports a range of solutions that can be tailored to the needs of local transit systems and increase the integration between transit and Visa payment. The solutions range from using Visa products to pay for existing transit fare media, to dual-use cards combining the advantages of Visa payWave with proprietary transit applications, to a completely integrated solution where Visa payWave-enabled cards and devices are accepted as the fare media at the gate, reducing the operator's need to issue proprietary media.

Visa Transit Around the World

In addition to the US and French pilot programs, Visa's transit strategy has been at work around the world, supporting both commercial and pilot programs, making travel easier for riders and fare collections more efficient for operators in Europe and Asia.

Visa Inc. Transit Pilots in Asia

Korea: Almost a quarter of all Visa cards in Korea, from 18 issuers, now support various domestic transit applications. These Visa cardholders can use the same card to ride transit they use to pay in the shops. In a world first and in partnership with T-Money provider KSCC (Korea Smart Card Company), card issuer Shinhan Bank and Korea Telecom Freetel (KTF), Visa has made it possible for commuters to use their Visa account to top up their T-Money balances automatically on the phone's SIM card when it falls below a certain level. By conducting the entire transaction automatically over the mobile network, commuters are freed from the inconvenience of waiting in line at transit kiosks or other agents to top up their transit account.

Kuala Lumpur: Domestic Visa contactless cards are accepted at the fare gate to board the express train from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to the central bus station. Riders don't need to stop to buy a ticket, nor do they require a special transit enabled Visa card, they just use the contactless card provided by their issuers and they ride hassle-free.

Hong Kong and India: Visa, working with Citibank, has recently been chosen as the exclusive payment partner to support the local transit applications on local cards for key transit programs in Hong Kong and Delhi.

Visa Europe Transit Programs

Turkey: Visa Europe and DenizBank in Turkey introduced Visa payWave acceptance at Istanbul ferry gates in partnership with IDO (Istanbul's Fast Ferries Co. Inc). Now, any Visa payWave cardholder from Turkey or abroad can simply wave their standard Visa payWave card over the gate reader and pay for their journey, just like any other Visa payWave transaction. DenizBank also launched a special co-branded IDO Sea Miles card that rewards ferry travelers with miles for their journeys that can be redeemed for free ferry travel.

UK: In the UK, a multifunction Barclaycard Visa credit card features Visa payWave for payment and a contactless Oyster smartcard application enabling cardholders to use the same card to make low value purchases and to travel throughout London on the public transport network. Visa Europe isalso actively collaborating with Transport for London to define how Visa payWave cards might be accepted directlyat the fare gate in the London transport network. Visa's stand at the annual Cartes 2008 features a demonstration simulating the London Underground network showing how TfL's business and ticketing rules could be implemented using Visa payWave cards.

Through these efforts, transit agencies can streamline their transit operations, as well as potentially decrease their investment in custom built fare systems, cash handling costs and fare card life cycle costs. The use of Visa payWave cards as fare payment media, may also lead to a decrease in the number of customer service issues and costs related to traditional fare cards issued by transit agencies.

(1) Visa Europe is a separate entity that is an exclusive licensee of Visa Inc.'s trademarks and technology in the European region

About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

About Visa Europe

In Europe, there areover 360 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending June 2008, those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of over 1.3 trillion.11.4% of consumer spending at point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card.

Visa Europe is owned and operated by its 4,600 European member banks and was incorporated in July 2004. In October 2007, Visa Europe became independent of the new global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. For more information, visit

About Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

LACMTA serves as transportation planner, coordinator, designer, builder and operator for one of the country's largest, most populous counties. More than 9 million people - one-third of California's residents - live, work, and play within its 1,433-square-mile service area. Besides operating over 2,000 peak-hour buses on an average weekday, LACMTA also designed, built and now operates 73.1 miles of Metro Rail service. As of September 2008, the average monthly boardings for LACMTA's bus fleet was approximately 32.5 million, and its average monthly rail boardings was approximately 8.7 million. See

About Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP)

RATP is the leading French urban transport operator, and is reputed to be the first in the world among 'multimodal' urban transport operators. Every year it carries more than two and a half billion passengers. In the Ile de France region, it operates metro, buses, regional railways and trams. It manages more than 450 stations and 8000 bus and tram stops. RATP's networks are growing both with traditional and innovative modes. Its annual turnover is more than 3 billion Euros.

SOURCE: Visa Inc.

Visa Inc.
Elvira Swanson, +1-415-932-2564
Visa Europe:
Lorraine Pitt, +44-0207-795-5291
Jane Matsumoto, +1-213-922-3045
Fran Curbello, +1-213-922-5608