Handy way to pay for bus and train rides goes on trial

The Sony wristband that can replace the ez-link card is encoded with a digital Cepas chip, and allows users to establish a Bluetooth connection to check their value balance and transactions while on the go. The six-month trial starts today.
The Sony wristband that can replace the ez-link card is encoded with a digital Cepas chip, and allows users to establish a Bluetooth connection to check their value balance and transactions while on the go. The six-month trial starts today.PHOTO: LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY

No more fishing out your wallet, or fumbling with your handbag. In future, you can pay for your bus and train rides just by putting your wrist near the fare card reader.

The Land Transport Authority has launched a six-month trial starting today to test a wristband that can replace the ez-link card.

The exercise, involving 200 commuters, is being done along with Singtel, Sony, ez-link, Nets and TransitLink. The Sony wristband is encoded with a digital Cepas (contactless e-purse application) chip.

To top up the stored value in the band, users simply place the wristband on the reader of a top-up device, just as they would a transit card. Or, they can opt to register for automatic top-up services.

The Sony wristband that can replace the ez-link card is encoded with a digital Cepas chip, and allows users to establish a Bluetooth connection to check their value balance and transactions while on the go. The six-month trial starts today.
The Sony wristband that can replace the ez-link card is encoded with a digital Cepas chip, and allows users to establish a Bluetooth connection to check their value balance and transactions while on the go. The six-month trial starts today. PHOTO: LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY

Users can establish a Bluetooth connection with the Singtel mWallet app to check their value balance and transactions while on the go.

Trial participants will also be able to use their wristband at retail and merchant outlets and libraries. They can also track their daily activities, and view the readings on their smartphones via Bluetooth.

This "wearable farecard" technology has been in use in Seoul and Hong Kong, where commuters can use their watches and mobile phones to pay for rides.

Transport expert Park Byung Joon, an adjunct associate professor at UniSIM, said the band may not improve efficiency significantly.

"Today, most commuters already have their cards or wallets in hand before boarding the bus," Dr Park said. "But there are those who keep their card in the handbag, and the reader might not be able to detect it at first go. In those instances, a wristband will help improve things."

But he noted that actual improvement will depend on how many people eventually choose to wear the band. "A wristband is essentially a personal fashion accessory," he said.

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Handy way to pay for bus and train rides goes on trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe