Apple Pay might be available in Warzone but not on Toronto Streetcars

Apple Pay is available in three more nations; Norway, Ukraine, and Poland, but not on Toronto’s mass transit system.

A limited version of Apple Pay; without person-to-person (P2P) payments and Apple Pay Cash is scheduled to roll out in Poland, Ukraine, and Norway over the next few months, CNET reported. That means Apple Pay might be available to people in the war zone where Ukraine’s army is battling Russian-backed separatists.

Even though Apple Pay might be available on battlefields in Ukraine, it cannot be used by commuter train, streetcar, and subway riders in Canada’s largest city. The Metrolinx transit agency in Toronto might accept Apple Pay in a few years, The Toronto Star reported.

Smartphone payment will be integrated with the Presto card, Metrolinx’s existing payment solution in Hamilton and Toronto within the next few years, The Star reported. Metrolinx is planning a Presto Mobile program that will launch this year but no details are provided.

Toronto Transit might take Apple Pay someday

Presto Mobile users will be able to combine transit payment with Uber, Bike Share TO, and other apps at a central hub, The Star reported. The newspaper did not say which payment apps Presto Mobile will support, or how they will communicate with ticket machines. That means Presto Mobile might not support some payment apps.

The problem is that popular payment apps use different methods to communicate with devices like ticket machines. Solutions like Google Pay and Apple utilize near-field communications (NFC) which sends a wireless signal to devices. Wallets like Alipay, WeChat Pay, Google Tez, and Walmart Pay employ quick read (QR) code which initiates communication by scanning an image of a barcode.

The situation in Toronto demonstrates just far behind in payment technology North America is. Hong Kong transit riders have been able to make wireless payments with the Octopus Card for nearly 21 years – it debuted in September 1997.

Serious efforts to modernize the payment system in both Canada and the United States are needed now. The Federal Reserve System in the United States and the Bank of Canada must take the lead in building a modern payment system in both countries.