UPDATED: Commuters can now use credit and debit cards to tap on public transport

Sally McMullen 12 March 2018 NEWS

Amex, Visa and Mastercard cardholders can ditch their Opal cards to tap on and off ferries and light rail trips in Sydney.

American Express, Visa and Mastercard cardholders can remove their Opal cards from their wallets from today. This is because customers can now pay for Adult Opal single trip ticket fares on Sydney Ferries and Inner West Light Rail services by tapping their American Express card, Mastercard credit card or debit card and mobile wallet at the Opal reader. For Mastercard and Visa cardholders, you can take advantage of this new partnership regardless of which institution you bank with.

Not only does it mean that your wallet may be lighter, it also means you won’t be stranded without a means of tapping on and off if you leave your Opal card at home or if you're travelling interstate. Plus, if you’re using a frequent flyer or rewards credit card, you can also earn points on every $1 you spend on your travel costs.

As you can only use your card for eligible Adult Opal single trip ticket fares, you won't be able to take advantage of the usual weekly discount travel reward once you've completed eight paid journeys between Monday and Sunday if you pay with your debit or credit card rather than your Opal card.

For Amex, this partnership further cements its position as a leader in contactless payments in Australia. It was also the first card issuer to offer all three major mobile wallets (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay) to its customers. Amex says this is just the latest initiative to give cardholders more convenient ways to use their cards.

"In the last year, American Express mobile wallet transactions have more than doubled and we expect this trend to continue as more places accept American Express contactless payments,” said Amex Vice President of Consumer Cards, Austin Huntsdale. “Our work with Transport for NSW is a great example of our commitment to growth in contactless acceptance in Australia.”

As our lives become increasingly more digital, the initiative is also a reaction to consumer behaviour and our movement towards a cardless and cashless society.

“Australians have a keen appetite for new ways to pay, including via smartphones and wearables, both of which can now also be used to pay for public transport," said Visa's head of product Axel Boye-Moller. "Recent Visa research found 8 in 10 people would be comfortable using a smartphone for every day payments and 23% of Australians would likely use a smartwatch or other wearable for everyday payments, if they had one."

This partnership also follows Mastercard's successful six month trial in which commuters could use their credit or debit cards to tap on and off the F1 Manly to Circular Quay ferry service last year.

“The trial, which began in July 2017, has been a great success and demonstrates how we can apply and adapt technology to simplify customer experiences," said Mastercard division president for Australasia Richard Wormald.

Unfortunately, you can only use your bank card to tap on and off with Sydney Ferries and Inner West Light Rail services at the time of launch. However, there are plans to expand to other modes of public transport in NSW and across Australia in the future.

"We are looking forward to rolling out similar solutions in other states and making Australian cities more connected,” said Wormald.

In 2016, finder reported that NSW Transport was trialling a system that allowed commuters to tap on with credit and debit cards rather than their Opal. Although it hasn’t confirmed any further plans to roll out this system, Amex, Visa and Mastercard's partnership with Transport NSW is likely just the first of many alliances that will give commuters more ways to pay from now on.

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