Atlanta has long been at the vanguard of NFC deployment in the US thanks to it status as the home of one of the first major trials of the technology in North America.

In the transport sector, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) implemented a fare program using the contactless Breeze Card in 2006. Breeze card and ticket holders can use a single card to park and pay for their rail and bus fares. Parking equipment and the Breeze system for MARTA’s park-and-ride scheme is provided by Cubic. It features fare gates, parking terminals, interactive Breeze vending machines, terminals on buses and paratransit vehicles. This scheme is gradually being expanded to neighboring transit authorities that feed into Atlanta, such as Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Cobb Community Transit, Clayton County C-Tran and Gwinnett County Transit.

Payment functionality has been a key feature of contactless deployments in the city. At the end of 2005 around 150 fans of Atlanta’s professional hockey and basketball teams took part in a six-month NFC trial in the Philips Arena. Participants were given a Nokia 3220 handset which they could use to pay for food and drink at concession stands around the arena. They could also use the phones in conjunction with smart posters to download ringtones and clips of their team. Around 150 contactless point-of-sale (POS) readers were deployed by ViVOtech to support the pilot.  Other partners involved included Visa USA, JPMorgan Chase Cingular (now AT&T), Philips (now NXP), ViVOtech Atlanta Spirit and LLC (parent company of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers).

In the same year, MBNA began issuing credit cards featuring MasterCard PayPass technology to customers in the city, selecting Atlanta for the launch because hundreds of merchants had already installed contactless terminals.

More recently, U.S. Bank has trialed passive contactless as part of an internal pilot in several cities in the country, including Atlanta.

And, although progress with contactless in the city has slowed since the flurry of activity five years ago, there is every reason to be optimistic about its future in Atlanta. AT&T and Verizon are working on a NFC mobile payment project set for pre-commercial launch in 2011 or 2012. T-Mobile USA may also get involved in the program. These pre-commercial trials – codenamed Mercury – are expected be held in a handful of US cities and there are rumours that this could include Atlanta. It’s also thought they may use Discover Financial Services’ Zip contactless application and could involve Britain’s Barclays Bank as well as American banks. The scheme is likely to use NFC handsets as well as interim solutions such as contactless microSD cards.




Point of sale terminals/readers deployed



Different types of contactless device

3 5
Number of contactless devices 5001+


Number of applications

4 4

Total number of service providers involved



Number of banks in partnership 5


Number of operators in partnership

3 3

Number of merchant locations



Transit operators in scheme



Parking sector

1 1




Entertainment sector – football, leisure, congress etc

1 1
Public sector activities – libraries, schools etc 0


Smart poster environments in place

1 1

Marketing campaigns rolled out

5 5

Length of time project implemented

25 months+


ROI – future potential

4 4

Green credentials

1000 5

Social equality







  1. Atlanta at the vanguard of US contactless technology « Contactless & NFC City League - November 10, 2010

    […] Click here for the League Table on Atlanta […]

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