Mobile Payments Coming to NYC Subway, But Not Anytime Soon

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If you're hoping Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or one of the many other mobile-payment platforms will come to the New York City subway sometime soon, don't bet on it.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has put out the call (PDF) for a company to install mobile, contactless payments across the subway. Don't expect to tap and go just yet, though. Any sort of mobile payment system probably won't be in effect until at least 2021.

Mobile payments have found their way into taxi cabs in New York City. Rolling out a new system to all 469 of the city's subway stations and other purchase points, though, will take time and money. The agency expects the full design and implementation to cost more than $10 million. 

According to the bid, which was earlier obtained by The Verge, a contactless payment system would allow the city to phase out the plastic MetroCards currently in use.

The MTA's bids are due on June 23, after interested companies have a chance to tour a station and bus depot in early May to see what is required. A $350 application fee is required. Specifically, the agency needs someone "to design, furnish, install, test, integrate, and implement an account-based new fare payment and collection system based on open bank card payment industry standards that will utilize contactless media, including contactless smart cards and mobile devices."

Across the pond, things are a little more advanced. In London, you can use Apple Pay on buses, trams, the Underground, and most other rail services.

The mobile-payments market is set to explode in the coming years. Last year, research firm eMarketer predicted that mobile-payment transactions would jump to $27 billion this year, up from $8.7 billion in 2015. By 2021, that figure will likely be much, much higher.

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