BART Riders Embrace Paying with Mobile Phones–NFC Trial a Success

BART Riders Embrace Paying with Mobile Phones–NFC Trial a Success

Mobile Payments Trial Shows High Transit and Retail Usage

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 6, 2008–Earlier this year a select group of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) riders took part in a first-in-the-nation trial to pay for their fares and food, receive discounts and check account balances using just their new mobile phone containing a contactless chip that enables transactions without a traditional plastic card. BART, First Data and ViVOtech today released the results of the trial conducted in the San Francisco area from Jan. 28 to May 30, 2008, which demonstrate high use when both transit fare and retail payments are combined in the same phone.

The results show that BART riders who took part in the trial extensively used their contactless, Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled phones to pay for their BART fares and meals at participating Jack in the Box restaurants. The results also show that participants at BART stations frequently tapped smart advertisements in BART stations with their NFC phones. These posters contained directions to nearby Jack in the Box restaurants.

The data shows that trial participants took close to 9,000 trips on BART during the trial. To pay at BART stations, they simply tapped their NFC-equipped mobile phones, provided by Sprint, on top of the BART fare gates (see BARTtv news story about the trial at This represents an average of 50 trips per participant during the four-month trial. Participants also topped-up their BART card balances more than 800 times using the over-the-air (OTA) feature of their NFC-equipped phones averaging five BART top-ups per mobile phone during the trial. More than 80% of trial participants indicated that the mobile wallet application was easy to use.

“We’re very excited that our trial was so successful,” BART’s longest serving board member, James Fang, said. “NFC devices are all the rage in Asia, and if all goes well, millions of Americans will have access to these NFC-enabled phones starting in two years. With so many people turning to transit to avoid the ever-skyrocketing price of gas, we must do everything we can to break down the barriers that stand in the way of them using BART. The NFC-enabled phone simplifies their lives because they never need to dig for a BART ticket again, and they can bypass those fumbling for change at the ticket machine, and instead, go directly through the faregates – knowing they always have the correct fare on their phones.”

Another value of this trial was to test the combination of transit and Jack in the Box meal purchases using the mobile phones as well as to drive traffic to merchants using NFC-enabled smart posters. During the trial, participants tapped their phones several hundred times on smart posters located throughout the BART terminal to obtain directions to the nearest Jack in the Box restaurant from the BART station.

“The success of this trial truly demonstrates the future of mobile commerce–the ability to see account balances, make payments and participate in marketing programs from an NFC enabled phone,” said Barry McCarthy, president, First Data Mobile Commerce Solutions. “For the first time, multiple payment accounts co-existed on the same mobile phone. The program clearly highlighted how First Data assets in the physical world can be enhanced to deliver value-added services in the mobile commerce arena. Mobility will play a big role in the future of commerce, and First Data is working to leverage its market and thought leadership to drive mobile commerce adoption broadly.”

“The BART trial results show that transit payment is a killer application for NFC mobile phones providing convenience and speed to customers who take transit and other public transportation frequently,” said Michael Mullagh, ViVOtech CEO. “We are also encouraged to see that merchant card payments and opt-in smart poster applications enabled by ViVOtech software through the same NFC mobile phone were also highly used by the trial participants.”

ViVOtech developed the wallet software for the NFC mobile phones and the OTA card provisioning servers that Sprint used for the trial. This enabled participants to remotely download their BART fare and Jack Ca$h™ gift cards onto their mobile phones, check their card balances, review previous transactions, automatically top up their cards and use their phones to pay for BART fares and Jack in the Box food. ViVOtech also provided the contactless payment devices that read the NFC-enabled chips at Jack in the Box restaurants.

About the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

This year the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is the nation’s 5th largest all-rail transit agency. BART’s mission is to provide safe, reliable and affordable transportation to the more than 103 million passengers that it carries each year through four counties and 26 cities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. For more information about BART, visit

About First Data

First Data is a global technology leader in information commerce. The company processes transaction data of all kinds, harnesses the power of that data and delivers innovations in secure infrastructure, intelligence and insight for its customers. With operations in 37 countries, First Data serves more than 5.4 million merchant locations and more than 2,000 card issuers and their customers. It powers the global economy by making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses around the world to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. The company’s portfolio of services and solutions includes merchant transaction processing services; credit, debit, private-label, gift, payroll and other prepaid card offerings; fraud protection and authentication solutions; electronic check acceptance services through TeleCheck; as well as Internet commerce and mobile payment solutions. The company’s STAR Network offers PIN-secured debit acceptance at 2.1 million ATM and retail locations. Through First Data’s centers of excellence, such as security, analytics, customer loyalty and mobile payments, it offers data-driven commerce solutions for customers around the globe. For more information, visit

About ViVOtech

ViVOtech ( is the market leader in near field communication (NFC) mobile payments, promotions and Over-the-Air (OTA) provisioning infrastructure software, transaction management software, NFC smart posters, and contactless terminals. These innovative solutions allow millions of consumers to make contactless payments with radio frequency-enabled credit/debit cards, fobs and NFC mobile phones. ViVOtech’s products are used by the most prominent retailers all over the globe and today the company has shipped over 450,000 contactless terminals to more than 33 countries worldwide. In 2008, ViVOtech has been named #1 in ABI Research’s Contactless & NFC Reader Ranking Report. ViVOtech was also recognized as Top Contactless Payment Technology Vendor in Aberdeen Group’s “Retail Contactless Payment Report.” ViVOtech has received strategic investments from First Data Corporation, a leading provider of electronic and payment solutions for businesses worldwide, Citi, the leading global financial services company, NCR Corporation, a leading global technology company helping businesses build stronger relationship with their customers and Motorola, known globally for innovation and leadership in wireless and broadband communications.