Outside Australia, numerous public transport smartcard systems have apps that let you instantly check the balance of a card using a phone that uses Near Field Communication (NFC).
Most such phones are Android, but the Apple iPhone 6 and later also has it.
Because the “master record” for this data is kept on the card itself, only checking via NFC can guarantee details that are completely up to date — unlike checking via the web or other apps which can’t read the card (such as Myki Plus* and Pay 24). Reading from the web site means it may take several hours or even longer to update.
It seems NSW’s Opal Card has just joined the NFC app club… for Android only at this stage, it appears.
So I just checked my Opal balance on my phone. Neato.
I think Opal is the first Australian public transport smartcard to offer this.
How long will we wait for Myki to provide this? The web site has barely changed in 6 years, so I wouldn’t be holding my breath — though the tendering to a new operator for the ticket system may mean we’ll see these types of improvements. Indeed, the operator of Opal, Cubic, is one of the short listed companies to run Myki.
Already the Vix-provided gates/readers are appearing at more stations, with response time much more in line with other systems around the world. Just shows how we benefit if the ticketing system is run by a company that actually has some experience at it.
- Transport for NSW: Opal apps
- Previously on the blog: What can you see on a Myki card by using an NFC app? — not very much. It’s all encrypted.
- *Myki Plus’s description misleadingly implies it does use NFC to read the card. It doesn’t. In the fineprint on their web site, it says: “Myki Plus displays the information retrieved from the myki website. This may mean there is a delay between when you touch on and when your balance is updated.”
- Of course, one should always be cautious about financial transactions such as topping-up your Myki when using an unofficial app. I’d rather stick to the clunky web site, myself.