Transit is one of the ‘big’ appeals and benefits that Apple are trying to spruik when talking Apple Pay, however there’s two different approaches when it comes to paying for transit – stored value cards, and EMV support.
If you use a stored value card with Apple Pay (eg, Suica), you get the benefit of ‘Express Transit’, making commuting using Apple Pay that little bit easier.
When you enter and exit the ticket gates, simply hold the top of your iPhone or the display of your Apple Watch within a few centimeters of the middle of the ticket gate scanner until you feel a vibration. You’ll see Done and a checkmark on the display. Your iPhone or Apple Watch must be turned on, but it doesn’t have to be connected to a network. With Express Transit, you don’t need to validate with Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode, and you don’t need to wake or unlock your device or open an app.
On iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, Express Cards with power reserve is available for up to five hours when your iPhone needs to be charged.
This is much easier than having to authenticate before tapping, especially if something goes wrong when you tap at the reader.
However, this is limited to transit providers working directly with Apple, and then only works in that region.
In comparison, EMV means you can use any Visa, Mastercard or American Express to travel on a supported system, whether that’s your physical plastic card, a ring/band or any other wearable, or a digital wallet like Apple Pay on an iPhone or Apple Watch, or Google/Samsung Pay – and then it ‘just works’, whether you’re in London, Sydney or Singapore.
This means you don’t have to wake your phone (like you would with Google Pay), nor authenticate with a fingerprint/iris/PIN if you use Samsung Pay, when you catch public transport.
And it’s still ‘secure’ – when you tap at any other contactless terminal even for $1 purchases, you’re still prompted to authenticate.
New strings discovered within the pass.json files of Apple Pay card files make mention of new ‘Transit Network Identifiers’ options, as well as new passUpgrades/open loop options – which would provide an equivalent solution for Apple Pay customers.
You’d be able to set your preferred EMV card (again, Visa, Mastercard or American Express) to use for ‘Express Transit’ – no need to authenticate, just tap your iPhone or Watch at an Opal reader.