#Asia In Singapore, your phone is now your ticket to ride


However, a certain subset of the population — Apple users — will be left out of the new EZ-link service


My oh my, how we have come to love for our little plastic cards sitting in our wallet, our phone case, our purses; binging and booping every day to get us to work, school, the beach or a romantic date. But, the time has come for the relationship to move forward, and for tech-savvy individuals to ditch those old plastic cards.

As of today, many Singaporeans will no longer need to carry around their little plastic friend because the Land Transit Authority (LTA) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) are rolling out a plan for commuters to pay for MRT, LRT and public busses using their mobile phone.

Additionally, the technology will be integrated into over 30,000 EZ-pay acceptance points across the city — these include retail, food outlets, and taxis.

Also Read: Singapore has world’s fastest Internet, but South Korea has the best: Akamai report

The plan leverages near field communication technology (NFC) — the same mechanism used to pay for a Starbucks coffee via a mobile phone.

The use of NFC technology naturally brings up one obvious limitation — not all phones will be able to use the service. Most notable of those is the payment system has not onboarded Apple iOS into the plan. So, if you have an iPhone, don’t throw your plastic in the trash. Below is a complete list of phones the service will provide for:

1) LG Optimus G
2) LG Optimus G Pro
3) Samsung GALAXY ACE 3 With LTE
4) Samsung GALAXY Note II LTE
5) Samsung Galaxy Note 5 4G+
6) Samsung GALAXY Note Edge 4G+
7) Samsung GALAXY S III
9) Samsung Galaxy S6 4G+
10) Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 4G+
11) Samsung Galaxy S7 4G+
12) Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 4G+
13) Sony Xperia™ Z
14) Sony Xperia™ Z2
15) Sony Xperia™ Z3
16) Sony Xperia™ Z3 Compact
17) Sony Xperia™ Z5
18) Sony Xperia™ Z5 Compact
19) Sony Xperia™ Z5 Premium

The top up system works like a normal plastic card, but users will also be able to check their balance, transaction history and top-up value via a mobile app.

“We have been testing various innovative fare payment systems, and bringing these NFC SIMs and mobile phone models into the public transit ticketing environment bears fruit to LTA’s on-going efforts to leverage on technology to bring greater convenience to commuters through new and convenient ways to pay for travel,” said LTA Chief Executive Chew Men Leong in an official statement.

Coinciding with the government’s announcement, Singtel began the process of rolling out the service via its Dash app and StarHub issued a statement which read,

“This development is a step in the right direction towards stimulating digital commerce growth in Singapore. Our world is becoming increasingly digital, and we are looking forward to meeting the needs of our mobile customers, who want to do more with their smartphones.”

M1 will incorporate its prepaid Mastercard service into the feature.

In terms of the actual SIM card, two of the three major telcos will not be offering the service for free.

M1: Starting Wednesday, people can buy the upgrade at US$37.45 and the company is waiving the EZ-link purse fee until April 30.

StarHub: Starting April 2, the company is charging US$37.45 or replacing an old SIM card for US$27.75. They will also wave the purse fee until “further notice”.

Singtel: The telco is rolling out its SIM programme over the month of April and will make it available to customer towards the end of the month. However, according to the statement, purchase of the SIM will be of no additional cost and the US$5 purse fee will also be waived.

Also Read: Singapore’s new co-working space is right inside Capital Tower in CBD

Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman at IDA, mentioned that Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to implement this kind of technology in its public transit and highlighted the deployment as a facilitator of ease and convenience.

“In our Smart Nation journey, innovation will be increasingly vital, using tech to solve big problems and serve our community,” he said.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

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