MTA reports ‘much higher’ than expected Omny contactless transit payments adoption in New York

MTA's Alan Putre with smartphone in hand
QUICK UPTAKE: MTA’s Alan Putre says there’s been fast adoption of Omny by card and smartphone

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) says its new Omny open loop contactless payments system recorded its one millionth transaction on 8 August, “a remarkable milestone accomplished at a much higher usage rate than initially estimated”.

“When we launched Omny a mere 10 weeks ago today, we knew that some New Yorkers would immediately begin paying their fare with a tap,” said Patrick J Foye, MTA chairman and CEO.

“But even our most optimistic forecasts didn’t anticipate how popular Omny would become in such a short time.”

Omny launched on 31 May at 16 subway stations and on Staten Island buses.

Contactless payment

Passengers can pay using Visa, Mastercard and American Express contactless cards as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Fitbit Pay.

“Within the first three days, subways and bus customers used Omny more than 18,000 times, far exceeding original estimates of 7,000 taps in the first week,” the MTA says.

“Nearly three months later, average usage rates are three to four times greater than expected, topping 22,000 per weekday and leading to the million-tap milestone just 69 days after the public launch.

“Also unexpected was the surprisingly high number of Omny customers using smartphones for payment, with 80% using through digital wallets compared with 20% using Omny through contactless cards.”

Strong appetite

MTA customers’ usage of digital wallets “far exceeds the retail industry’s 15% usage of digital wallets, which highlights high interest in contactless payment technology and a strong appetite for contactless payment options,” the agency adds.

“The MTA’s initial Omny usage estimates were based on similar digital wallet and contactless card usage in retail industries, and the success of Omny shows that New Yorkers are quick to adapt to new uses for technology but limited by available contactless payment options.”

“Not only are we pleasantly surprised by our customers’ quick adoption of Omny, but also with the number that are choosing to pay with their smart devices rather than a physical card,” says MTA’s Omny program executive Alan Putre.

“This should be a clear signal to the financial industry that New Yorkers are more than ready for the next generation of payment cards.”

“So far, customers from 93 countries outside of the US have paid their fares using Omny, with 62% of those customers coming from Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Germany and France,” the MTA adds.