Telecom is hitching up to Auckland's $110 million transport ticketing project by turning smartphones into wallets for use on buses, trains and ferries.
The company yesterday showed the technology in action at its testing laboratory in expectation of making it available late next year for payments to retailers as well as public transport.
Smartphones loaded with an electronic version of Auckland Transport's new Hop card alongside a Westpac MasterCard and Telecom payment account were used to open replicas of passenger gates already installed at key railway stations, with electronic monitors showing credit balances.
But Auckland Transport says its priority is to ensure an updated version of the plastic Hop card is ready for travel on trains from October 28 before allowing a smartphone trial.
"We want to make sure the core system working the cards is 100 per cent ready to go before we open it up," chief operating officer Greg Edmonds told the Herald.
About 100 people are involved in a field trial of the Hop card on the rail network, and Mr Edmonds says that number will be ramped up over the next few weeks before the system is activated for general public use.
Only after that will 30 or so volunteers for a trial by Telecom be invited to test the smartphone system, for which the company has yet to meet a Government-approved standard.
The Auckland Transport ticket, which will be extended to ferries in late November, is different to a version of the Hop card introduced to NZ Bus last year with a chip supplied by Wellington-based Snapper Services.
Passengers will be unable to use that card on trains and ferries and it will be phased out on buses from April, following Auckland Transport's decision last month to dump Snapper for allegedly failing to meet the national standard.
Snapper denies missing any deadlines and says it will claim $10 million to $20 million in costs from Auckland Transport.
It also claims to be leading the mobile wallet field with a free app launched last week to allow smartphones to be used as tickets on the NZ Bus fleet and for payments in taxis and convenience stores.
Hopping to it
* Auckland Transport version of Hop card to be introduced to trains on October 28 and to ferries on November 30.
* Snapper-enabled version now used on NZ Bus services to be phased out after April, and replaced by Auckland Transport card free to existing users.
* Telecom smartphone "mobile wallet" including virtual Hop card to be introduced late next year.