iOS 11.3 beta 4 and Apple Pay Transit

9to5Mac found some interesting Apple Pay code strings in iOS 11.3 beta 4 that imply Shanghai and Beijing transit cards might join Apple Pay.

The text strings along with UI tweaks in the Apple Pay Wallet ‘Card Type’ screen in iOS 11.3 b4 also suggest Apple might be revamping Apple Pay behind the scenes a bit to make it easier to support native stored value transit cards.

Unless the transit operator has their stored value smartcard system matched with a cloud service like JR East Mobile Suica, it’s difficult to add Apple Pay support. Just ask PASMO.

Hong Kong’s Smart Octopus card is the only other native stored value transit smartcard system on a smartphone that I can think of and just like Suica super fast FeliCa to boot, though I suspect Samsung Pay is supplying most of the cloud service at this point.

Apple Pay Transit
Most transit card systems do not have a cloud service to host cards on mobile

As you can see from the Apple Pay transit page above, stored value transit card systems without matching cloud services is the reason most Apple Pay transit support is the slow cumbersome credit card EMV contactless variety.

Credit cards at the transit gate even on a smartphone are not a good thing when the transit operator has to move massive amounts of people through a limited number of gates in a limited amount of time. On top of that transit operators also have to fork over credit card transaction fees.

When speed is essential, native stored fare transit cards always win the day but only when stored fare is combined with a credit card backend on a smartphone like iPhone Apple Pay Suica or Smart Octopus on Samsung Pay, does the magic really happen. Only then do customers enjoy the best and most convenient transit user experience.