Everybody wants a piece of the TTC's payment action
The specs for the TTC's open fare payment system have been requested by no fewer than 68 parties, including major credit card companies, banks and even Accenture, the company that won the $250 million contract to design the province's rival transit farecard, Presto, which the TTC doesn't want to install.
Some of those names, ranging from newspaper reporters to Metrolinx officials, aren't likely to register as official bidders. But it will be Monday before the TTC publicly announces which companies on the long list are making a serious play for the business, worth about $900 million annually.
The business opportunity is extreme, given that TTC ridership continues to climb and the Canadian market for micro-payments is only going to expand. Transit fares are considered a great gateway to convincing more of us to convert to the so-called contactless credit and debit card for those small purchases we're now transacting in cash.
"The card is the same card you use to buy your newspaper and coffee," Mastercard vice-president Cathleen Conforti told The Toronto Star this summer in a phone interview from her New York office.
She wasn't coy about the company's interest in the TTC and used the Mastercard experience on New York transit by way of example.
"You can use your card to go buy a Metrocard. You register for your monthly pass and give them your credit card information and you tap with your card every day and the payment platform knows you have that. The most important thing we're supplying is the convenience for the consumer," she said.
And there's no hassle for the rider in terms of converting to a special credit card, said Comforti.
"Over 99 per cent of active cards are PayPass enabled. In Canada you do not have an issue in enabling consumer cards. Globally,... it is a feature everybody wants on their card," she said.
Her company, which is on the TTC list, has been involved in transit for years in Salt Lake City, Paris, Liverpool, Warsaw and Taiwan.