public transportation

You can eventually tap your Mastercard to pay for MRT3, bus fares

Lance Spencer Yu

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You can eventually tap your Mastercard to pay for MRT3, bus fares

MRT3. Commuters crowd the Araneta Center-Cubao Station of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 on March 28, 2022.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Take note that Mastercard usage for train and bus fares is still being evaluated in a technical study, with no timeline provided yet for its rollout. Beep cards also remain in use.

MANILA, Philippines – Commuters can eventually skip the ticket line and directly tap their Mastercard cards to pay for their fares for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3), as well as EDSA and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) buses.

AF Payments, the company behind the Beep cards used by commuters, partnered with Mastercard to enable “tap and go” payments for public transport in the Philippines.

Once the program is fully implemented, those with a prepaid, debit, or credit Mastercard card will be able to directly tap it to pay for fares at the MRT3, and EDSA and BGC bus stations, without the need to separately purchase tickets or use their Beep card.

Take note that this is still undergoing a pilot program which will be “rolled out in phases across MRT stations and BGC and EDSA buses, with the intention to scale contactless payments acceptance across ferries and other modes of transportation in the future, and eventually across the country,” Mastercard and AF Payments said in a press release.

Randolph Clet, head of the Department of Transportation’s automatic fare collection system (AFCS), told Rappler that the MRT3 system is “not yet ready to accept it.” Because the MRT3, as well as the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, are under concession agreements, Clet said they “cannot just easily change things in the system.”

Instead, Mastercard usage will be piloted first through the BGC buses to “demonstrate compliance with the AFCS national standards.”

“While it is true that [AF Payments] has forged a business partnership with Mastercard, the use of debit cards, credit cards, and/or prepaid cards powered by Mastercard for use in public transportation is still being vetted and evaluated under a Proof of Concept technical study, the results of which will not yet take immediate effect, contrary to news reports that have since come out,” AF Payments clarified in a statement released on Friday, February 2 – a day after their initial partnership was reported.

This means that commuters cannot use their Mastercard cards to pay for their fares just yet. Mastercard and AF Payments have yet to provide a timeline for the study and subsequent rollout.

At the same time, the stored-value Beep cards currently being used for payments at train and bus stations will remain in use.

“For the record, there was no intention to immediately displace the use of the Beep card, the fare media brand owned by [AF Payments], which is currently being extensively used in light rail network and in select transport modes nationwide,” AF Payments said on Friday.

Nevertheless, JJ Moreno, president and chief executive officer of Beep, said the program will “benefit millions of Filipino commuters in Metro Manila, enhancing smart mobility through initiatives that bring our transit systems in line with global transport standards.”

Contactless payments using Mastercard cards have already been implemented in other Southeast Asian cities, such as in Singapore and Bangkok trains, for several years. – Rappler.com

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.