Commuters can use Mastercard credit and debit cards to pay for bus and train rides in pilot

Commuters passing through the gantries at Toa Payoh MRT station in March 2013.
Commuters passing through the gantries at Toa Payoh MRT station in March 2013. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A pilot will kick off at the end of this year (2016) to allow commuters to use "contactless" credit and debit cards to pay for their bus and train rides.

The trial will only be for those using Mastercard, with which the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced a partnership with on Monday (July 25).

The new payment system - called account-based ticketing - will allow commuters to tap their credit cards in and out at train station fare gates or on bus card readers, similar to using stored-value cards.

With this, commuters can do without their travel cards, which have to be topped up when the value is low.

Both LTA and Mastercard hope to attract about 100,000 users to test out the pilot payment system.

Commuters who own credit and debit cards with the Mastercard PayPass "contactless" payment function will be eligible for the trial. More details will be announced later, said the LTA and Mastercard.

Those who use this payment method will have their bus and train rides billed to their debit and credit cards. Through a mobile app or Web portal, commuters can track their journey and fare history.

"Through this public-private partnership, we look forward to the start of the pilot at the end of this year, when commuters in Singapore can be one of the first in Asia to experience this additional fare payment option," said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong.

"With this new option, they will be able to do away with the hassle of topping up their fare cards," he added.

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

Ms Deborah Heng, group head and general manager, Mastercard Singapore, said the trial is an " important milestone" for the company.

She called it a big step towards Mastercard's vision of "building a cashless society by embedding digital payments and reducing the overall reliance on cash to make travel more inclusive".

The LTA said that it is also working on enabling mobile phones for contactless use on public transit.