Mastercard has announced a partnership with Singapore’s mass transit agency, Land Transport Authority (LTA), for a contactless payment pilot, marking the first example in Asia of a transit system enabling open-loop payments, Mastercard said.

Mastercard hopes to recruit at least 100,000 customers in Singapore for the trial, which begins later this year, eliminating the need for participants to carry LTA’s reloadable transit card, the companies said in a July 25 press release.

Participants in the pilot who link a credit or debit card may track their account status and fare history via an associated website or mobile app. Initially the pilot is confined to contactless cards, but it may be expanded to include NFC-enabled mobile handsets later, according to LTA.

"As the contactless payments space continues to evolve, consumers will have different options to tap and pay securely at transit points,” said Deborah Heng, Mastercard’s general manager in Singapore.

The trial aims to improve convenience for commuters, said Chew Men Leong, chief executive of the LTA, which has recently experimented with other contactless payment approaches.

The LTA in February of this year concluded a six-month pilot enabling riders to make contactless payments via Bluetooth-enabled wristbands. Mobile network operator Singtel and transit card issuer EZ-Link sponsored that test, which used the Sony SG50 SmartBand. Participants in the trial loaded funds through the Singtel mWallet app, which communicated with the wristband and payment terminals via Bluetooth.

London adopted open-loop contactless payments for mass transit in 2014, and this is proving to be a popular approach alongside Transport for London’s reloadable contactless payment card.

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