IL: Cubic, MasterCard and Money Network to Launch Nation’s Largest Open Transit Fare Payment System

June 27, 2013
New fare system called Ventra brings more choice, convenience and flexibility to Chicago-area transit riders.

Ventra –is about to make its summertime debut with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and suburban bus operator Pace.

Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., is CTA and Pace’s systems integrator and services provider for Ventra, leading a team that will provide services to CTA and Pace through Jan. 15, 2024.

Cubic Transportation Systems announced Ventra with its program partners MasterCard and Money Network, a First Data company.

The program will give CTA and Pace customers two new options to pay for their train and bus rides:

• The new Ventra Card, which features two accounts – a closed-loop account for transit payments and an optional reloadable prepaid card that can be used for everyday purchases everywhere Debit MasterCard is accepted. The prepaid card is an optional feature for cardholders who choose to upgrade and use the Money Network MasterCard Prepaid Debit Card.

• Chicagoans and tourists will be able to pay for train and bus rides with any MasterCard PayPass or contactless payment card currently in their wallet to tap and pay at rail station turnstiles and on buses.

The card will eventually be sold in more than 2,000 retail stores and in more than 400 vending machines in CTA rail stations while cash will continue to be accepted in vending machines in CTA rail stations and on buses.

“MasterCard is the world’s fastest payment processing network and First Data is a global leader in payment processing and electronic commerce. They are ideal partners as we develop a world-class open fare system to serve as a model for transit agencies around the globe looking to modernize their fare payment systems,” said Richard Wunderle, senior vice president and general manager for Cubic’s North America operations. “MasterCard and First Data clearly demonstrated their strong commitment to public transit, and we are proud to have them on board.”

The Ventra Card will be available to CTA and Pace’s customer base beginning this summer 2013. The agencies combined provided more than 545.6 million rides in 2012.

Increased Speed and Convenience Beyond Cash

“For more than a decade, ‘Tap and Go’ cards have brought the convenience and speed of PayPass technology to both consumers and merchants,” said Michael Cyr, executive vice president, MasterCard. “Now, the combination of PayPass technology at the turnstile with the ability to provide additional purchasing power in the prepaid card will give Chicagoland commuters less to carry in their wallet, while helping to get to their destination and the activities that matter most to them.”

When activated, the Money Network MasterCard prepaid debit account features will allow cardholders to use the same Ventra Card that pays for train and bus rides, to shop online, buy groceries, pay bills and get cash back at merchants.

“Ventra will improve the rider experience by creating convenient connections throughout the region with the latest in contactless card technology,” said Forrest Claypool, president, CTA. “Chicagoans will be the first in the U.S. to enjoy this modern system which will meet their needs now and in the future.”

“The Ventra Card is another great example of the growing utility offered to consumers for prepaid debit cards,” said Madeline K. Aufseeser, prepaid industry senior analyst, Aite Group. “Prepaid debit cards are the fastest growing segment of the card payment space with an expected continued 20 percent year over year growth rate through 2016 and dollar load values exceeding US$106 billion.”

Prepaid industry research shows that today’s prepaid cards have mass market appeal with cardholders who are diverse and educated. According to a study by Aite Group, an independent research and advisory firm, 43 percent of today’s prepaid debit card users are Gen Yers, 30 percent are boomers, one-third earn more than $45,000 a year, and 50 percent have a high school degree or higher. Thirty-four percent of the educated have a college degree or higher.

“As payments and technology continue to converge in the world of universal commerce, First Data is applying our 40 years of industry experience and innovative capabilities to support new and emerging consumer use cases, including contactless payments,” said Mark Putman, senior vice president and division manager of First Data Prepaid Solutions. “This unique one card, two accounts program also offers Chicago transit riders financial service benefits such as online bill payment, accepting pay with direct deposit and engaging in cashless transactions — all useful to those with and without traditional bank relationships.”

About the Author

Debra Montner | Principal

Montner & Associates is a high-tech PR firm. Its clients provide infrastructure, devices, platforms and applications to other businesses.