The Metrolinx PRESTO UP service started an open loop contactless payment pilot program this past week. It’s the first step for open loop support across the entire PRESTO fare system. The coverage on MacRumors and elsewhere, and the PRESTOcard youtube video (now gone) itself makes it look like PRESTO already supports Apple Pay Express Transit when it apparently does not. Apple is very picky when it comes to certifying which open loop transit systems support EMV Apple Pay Express Transit. There aren’t any in Canada. The U.S. has three: NYC OMNY, Chicago Ventra and Portland HOP.
Unfortunately the PRESTO video uses post-production tricks to fake Apple Pay Express Transit. There are three instances: the 1:14 PRESTO reader, the 1:30 onboard verification check, and the 2:16 PRESTO reader. Each of these require a Face ID without mask or passcode Apple Pay authorization. As a reader pointed out the post-production folks neglected to fix the Apple Pay passcode request screen to match the reader ‘Accepted’ screen. Metrolinx promoting PRESTO open loop rollout so people will use it is one thing, but deception isn’t doing users, or PRESTO, any favor.
The PRESTO UP Tickets and Fares page lists EMV Express Transit support but it’s not clear if Apple, or the card networks actually support it or if it’s just wishful thinking. There is no mention of any similar benefits using Google Pay and the Apple Pay Transit support page does not list Express Mode availability in Canada. The PRESTO page also mentions an interesting iPhone issue: “Some iPhone models (8 and earlier), may experience an error message when tapped on a PRESTO device. If you tap with an older Apple device and see a message saying that multiple cards were detected, simply tap your device again and the PRESTO device should accept your tap.” PRESTO Contactless is a pilot program for teething open loop use issues. No mention of a digital PRESTO transit card of course. I suspect that when it comes (much later), it will be a closed loop debit card like Apple Pay Ventra.
Presto eventually pulled the video, suspect it was fake Express Transit after all, but there is some interesting evidence from recent EMV open-loop test sites in Japan that explains what might be going on. Fukuoka Metro is currently beta testing ‘VISA Touch’ retrofitted EMV reader equipped gates activated for Apple Pay Express Transit Mode. As a reader pointed out in a tweet, turning on the iOS 12.3 (and later) EMV Express Transit Mode feature is up to the transit operator and the card payment network agreements they have in place. When a system is fully up and officially launched, Apple simply lists it on their support site.