Metro-North Railroad, LIRR Pilot Mobile Payments

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Banking isn't the only industry with a keen interest in mobile payments — the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad aren't far behind.

Both rail lines, which are part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are running trials that will allow customers to redeem purchases with the scan of a bar code. The transaction works similar to the way customers make purchases using Starbucks' mobile wallet, with commuters using smartphones to display the codes to ticket handlers.

Metro-North is working with the payments technology vendor Masabi US Ltd. to test a smartphone app that will deploy the technology, the agency said in its monthly newsletter Mileposts.

The LIRR is partnering with the Long Island technology company CooCoo to launch a limited pilot program during the Barclays PGA Tour later this month that will allow passengers traveling through Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale to redeem tickets with the bar code.

That code will either be displayed on printouts or a smartphone, says LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone.

"It's a very limited pilot," he says. "But it's really something the Long Island Rail Road has been eager to test. Mobile ticketing is something that we are very interested in."

Over the past two years there has been a push industrywide to use the technology, Calderone says. That focus has intensified over the past six months as more and more companies are "entering the fray," he says.

The MTA and the LIRR plan to expand these types of programs over the next several years, Calderone says.

Internationally, transportation has always been a leading indicator of payments technology, says Mahesh Makhija, Infosys' head of financial services in the Americas.

"Increasingly the economics of printing tickets and distributing tickets and the convenience to consumers will start driving adoptions," he says.

Makhija says bar codes are the easiest means of introducing the technology to consumers.

"That's what's going to happen first," he says. "As we figure out the whole confusion around [near-field communication] and some of the other parts that need to be standardized, I think it's an easy, quick way that is stable and robust."

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