The law of averages suggests that even the longest losing streaks come to an end eventually. But even this is something of a boilover: Melbourne’s much maligned Myki system has, over the past month or so, been trialling a mobile payment system on Android-based phones. And god help us, it actually seems to work.
4,000 travellers were given access to the beta test of the cardless GPay system last week, which Victorian State Government officials hope will bring the criticised system up to speed with most other major cities around the world.
This broader test field followed on from an earlier trial of just 60 commuters last year who tested the new technology on E-Class trams only. Unlike that trial, however, this current one is being run on all Myki readers across the entire network.
And christ alive would you even believe: It looks like it works.
One of the subjects in the trial, Daniel Bowen, uploaded a YouTube video of the digital Myki easily and successfully touching on at train stations, with both old and new-style Myki readers seemingly working with little issue.
Clearly, it’s a bit finicky; the tech works far better when the device’s NFC antenna is placed directly at the reader, rather than holding the phone flat against the reader surface. But still, that’s a huge development as far as the Myki system is concerned. A new piece of tech on Melbourne public transport that seems to work as-specified straight out of the box! It’s a bloody miracle!
The new system works by adding a digital Myki card to Google Pay, which then sets up what’s ostensibly a new Myki card for the user (existing physical Myki cards, and their balances, can’t be transferred to digital). From there, users can instantly top the card up using GPay. The digital card can be read by all Myki validators, as well as Check Points and ticket inspector readers.
Crucially, PTV apparently asserts that the onus is on the rider to ensure your phone is charged when being checked. So if your phone goes flat mid-trip and you get stung, you’ll technically be considered to be fare evading, even if you’ve touched on. Which, we cannot stress enough, absolutely blows. But still, baby steps.
The one drawback of the trial is that it’s completely locked to the Android platform; Apple and iOS platforms are not included in the current mobile rollout plans. This is largely due to Apple not allowing something called Host Card Emulation on Apple Pay. What that means is that PTV can’t replicate a Myki on Apple Pay at present, and the option to use Apple Pay on Myki readers isn’t available because those readers aren’t compatible with contactless credit cards, unlike how systems like Sydney’s Opal operate.
There’s no definitive timeline for any wider public rollout of mobile payment systems at the present, but given the success of the trials so far you’d assume it’s gonna be sooner rather than later.
Something Myki-related actually going right. You bloody well cannot make this stuff up.