Thousands of Sydney commuters will be able to ditch their physical Opal smartcards for a digital alternative before the end of the year after Mastercard was selected to deliver a trial of the state’s new digital Opal card.
Transport for NSW has struck an undisclosed deal with the credit card giant for the large-scale trial, which will allow 10,000 commuters to add an Opal card to their smartphone’s digital wallets for the first time.
It comes almost a year after TfNSW revealed plans for a virtual equivalent of the Opal smartcard, following calls by customer service minister Victor Dominello to introduce such an offering.
Mastercard, which was also the first to trial contactless payments on the public transport network in 2017, has partnered with Australian-based digital gift card and prepaid card company EML Payments and the Commonwealth Bank to deliver the trial.
TfNSW said the “up to 10,000 Adult Opal customers” that take part in the trial will be able to use the digital Opal card to pay for all modes of public transport covered by the existing Opal network.
“The new Opal digital card will allow customers to tap on and off the network using a digital version of the card on their smartphone for the first time,” a TfNSW spokesperson said in a statement.
As is the case with similar digital transport card offerings in other countries, customers will also be able to use the digital card to pay for private transport services like taxis and even Ubers.
This is made possible by the Opal Connect payments platform, which was introduced by TfNSW last October to commuters to keep track of all their public transport payments, including those made using contactless credit or debit cards.
The platform has been previously been touted as the foundation for the government’s future Netflix-style subscription service for transport, in which commuters would pay a weekly or monthly fee.
TfNSW said Mastercard demonstrated its “global experience in developing digital payment technology” during a competitive tender process and was “well-placed” to deliver the “best solution and most competitive price” to support its requirements.
Mastercard Australia’s government and business relations vice president Asha Cugati said the company’s payments platform, dubbed Mastercard Assemble, would enable TfNSW to “simply and effectively design, develop and deploy a customised payments experience”.
“As the first technology and payment solutions provider to bring contactless payment to public transport in Australia, Mastercard is excited to build on its relationship with TfNSW to offer consumers another secure and convenient way to use their Opal cards,” she added.
Victoria was the first state in the country to introduce a digital equivalent of its physical myki smartcard last year, allowing Android users to tap on and off, as well as top up, using Google Pay.