Google Gets on Board with N.J. Transit for Mobile Payments

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To get its new payment system moving, Google Inc. is working with New Jersey Transit Agency to allow Google Wallet users to purchase tickets at some vending machines and ticket windows and to pay fares on seven bus routes.

Industry players view transit as the best way to drive consumer adoption of Near Field Communication-enabled mobile payments. Google says it shares that vision.

"Transit has been a common element of every major successful NFC effort globally and is a critical component of Google Wallet's success," said Stephanie Tilenius, Google vice president of commerce, said in a statement released Oct. 19.

Google Wallet users can purchase tickets at New York Penn Station vending machines and ticket windows, Newark Liberty International Rail Station and bus routes that were recently upgraded with contactless readers from the vendor ACS Transport Solutions Group.

"This is about making transportation easy and simple for riders," says Mike Nash, ACS vice president of transportation solutions. "More options [to pay] are better."

The New Jersey Transit partnership is the first of many such agreements for Google Wallet in the coming months, Marlo McGriff, Google business product manager of commerce, wrote in a blog post.

Indeed, consumers might find Google Wallet more attractive if transit is involved, says Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance of Princeton Junction, N.J.

"The addition of New Jersey Transit will be a big boost for NFC mobile wallet usage," he says. "Consumers with Google Wallet enabled phones might shop in Macy's or Foot Locker once a month, but those same people may ride New Jersey Transit twice a day."

New Jersey Transit is of several agencies to implement or test a contactless open-loop fare collection system nationwide.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is close to awarding a contract for its open-loop contactless fare collection system. ACS, Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. and Scheidt & Bachmann are still in the running for the contract and the authority expects to make a decision either this month or next.

Port Authority Transit Corp. of Camden, N.J., has partnered with Cubic on a 12-month pilot enabling commuters to pay both transit fares and retail purchases using a Visa-branded contactless prepaid debit card.

Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., are in various planning stages regarding an open-fare system.

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