Madrid moves up the league thanks to contactless transport

Lago subway station, Madrid, Spain

Lago Subway Station, Madrid, Spain - Image via Wikipedia

The contactless tempo is hotting up throughout Spain, with the latest projects in the capital Madrid making a real impact on usage.

It has been using contactless for its transit ticketing system since 2006, so the technology isn’t particularly new to the city. But what is new is the growing appetite for contactless and NFC, with a raft of announcements about innovative schemes hitting the blogosphere.

Madrid’s transport authorities have now extended the technology to monthly season ticket holders. If the test phase proves successful, it means that eventually both yearly and monthly season tickets – which are held by two out of three passengers – could be contactless.

Bankinter and Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid (EMT) are set to begin an NFC bus ticketing pilot in the city this year, enabling participants to make payments with NFC phones that can be reloaded over the air or via the Internet. The trial uses a Trusted Service Manager (TSM) solution developed by Ericsson, and is compatible with Mifare DESFire contactless tickets.

The technology is also being used in the capital to speed up access to railway stations during peak travel times as part of Vodafone Spain’s NFC pilot with national rail operator Renfe.

Other mobile network operators are also getting in on the act. Telefónica – well known throughout Europe for its proactive approach to NFC – is operating a trial of the technology involving around 20% (approx 2,500) of its staff at its Madrid headquarters. It’s an ambitious scheme that uses the technology for access control, payment and transit ticketing. Highlighting how important it is to have the right partners on board, the pilot involves Metro de Madrid in the transit element and Visa payWave for payment. The handsets are being provided by Samsung and other firms involved in the trial include Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient and NXP Semiconductors.

That other favourite – contactless payment – has been making inroads. In 2007, the Spanish banking group BBVA held a payment trial involving 200 users, Nokia handsets, Ingenico terminals, NXP chip technology and Visa payWave. The bank has backed NFC and contactless for some time and has a number of trials under its belt including a pilot involving SD cards for payment applications.

Another early adopter is La Caixa, which was the first financial organization to implement Visa payWave technology in Spain when it installed specially adapted terminals at Kinépolis cinema halls in Madrid and distributed Visa payWave cards to clients who lived locally.

The technology has also been put to use in another part of the leisure sector, with the city’s La Finca fitness club distributing LEGIC’s contactless smart cards to clients to give them programmable access to sports facilities and enabling billing for chargeable services. The prestigious club has made use of innovative form factors, giving users a choice of a bracelet, a watch or a card.

Click here for the league score table on Madrid.

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