New contactless technology rolls out on Rio’s metro

Contactless payment by card, mobile device or wearable technology has been successfully launched across Rio de Janeiro’s 41 metro stations.

Developed by Visa and the Brazilian company Planeta Informática, the V SAM technology–Visa Secure Access Module–has so far recorded a 400 percent growth in its first two months of operation.

“It is the start of something new that we are eager to expand,” said Guilherme Ramalho, President of MetrôRio. “We are promoting a new culture and habit in public transport.”

V SAM technology enables any public transport operator in the world to implement contactless payment solutions, quickly, safely and at low cost. It is the first technology of its kind in the transport sector and will be available to all Visa Ready technology partners.

Rather than installing brand new turnstiles or hardware, transit operators can install V SAM directly into existing systems, significantly decreasing cost and implementation time.

Similarly, transit operators that want to move to open loop but which may feel stuck because they have invested in closed-loop tech can use V SAM.

“We started talking to Visa two years ago,” explained Artur Costa, Director of Planeta Informática. “They were interested in expanding the acceptance of the use of their cards in the public transport market.”

After continued discussions, Costa and his team travelled to London to meet Nick Mackie, Vice President and Global Head Urban Mobility.

“We worked diligently with Visa to build the best technological solution for adding EMV contactless acceptance on top of any existing closed-loop payment system without necessarily replacing the entire electronic ticketing infrastructure,” added Costa.

“Do or do not; there is no try.”

The new technology builds on the two-year partnership between Visa and MetrôRio which began by offering passengers the use of self-service machines to buy and recharge tickets. This followed with apps to buy tickets and also included a real time journey planner.

"We are moving towards digital,” said Ramalho. “We want our customers to have convenience, speed and not to waste time queuing. These are the objectives of MetrôRio and also of Visa.”

Over 900,000 people use Rio’s metro each day. Economics student, João Vitor Loureiro, is one passenger who has been won over by the new payment system.

"When I found out about it I thought it wasn’t true,” he said. “Before, I used to keep my credit card at home. Now, I use it to go to university and then to my job. I no longer lose time queuing, and have also cut out the buying process or topping up my subway pass. It is the way of the future.”

A global study commissioned by Visa, The future of transportation: mobility in the age of the megacity, found complexity in payment is often a point of frustration among commuters on mass transit, so, solutions like contactless transit that make payments easier could be critical to increasing ridership and satisfaction in the future.

Commuters reported that the average use of mass transit would increase by 27 percent if it were easier to pay, with 47 percent saying the need to obtain different tickets for different modes of travel is an issue.

As of 9 June, Visa will have helped launch 127 contactless transit projects around the world–22 of which are in Europe. Major global cities include Madrid, Milan, New York City, Rio, St Petersburg, Singapore, Sydney, and Vancouver.