Visa is working with transport authorities in Los Angeles on a contactless payments trial that will enable customers to pay for journeys on the city's trains, subway and buses by tapping their cards against specially equipped terminals.
The pilot will see Visa and the LA Metro system team to offer two types of pre-paid payWave cards that incorporate the transit system's "TAP" fare application.
Ride, pay and reload cards will be sold through automated ReadyStation kiosks within the LA Metro system, with customers able to add up to $500 in value. These cards will be ready to use immediately for both transit fares and retail purchases.
Alternatively, customers can opt for personalised cards with a maximum value limit of $10,000 which are ordered online or over the phone. These cards have PIN numbers to enable users to withdraw cash at ATMs whilst customers can also have their paychecks deposited directly to the account.
Tim Attinger, head, product innovation and development, Visa, says the technology means "transit operators can potentially reduce cash handling costs and ticket distribution, letting them focus on their core business of getting people where they need to go".
Visa rival MasterCard is currently working with transport operators in New York on a contactless payments trial that will enable customers to use devices such as cards, key fobs and mobile phones to pay fares on buses and trains.
In a separate move, Visa says it is working with Paris's Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) on a proof-of-concept pilot to see if payWave acceptance at the city's Metro fare gates - alongside the existing closed-loop card, Navigo - is technically feasible.
MasterCard is also working with RATP and la Banque Postale on the functional and technical requirements and feasibility of using its PayPass contactless cards for public transport services in Paris. Lab and field tests could be conducted in the course of 2009, says MasterCard.
Meanwhile, Visa has also teamed with US Bancorp to pilot a miniature payWave device. The pre-paid Visa Micro Tag, which can be attached to a key ring, will be tested by around 4000 US Bank employees this month. The Micro Tag - manufactured by Giesecke & Devrient using Inside Contactless' MicroPass chip - was first introduced last year.