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Fitbit Pay expands e-payment network to 7 transit systems worldwide

2019-06-19 10:55 Wednesday


Wearers of the popular Fitbit activity-monitors are getting even more opportunities to leave the house without so much as a wallet or a credit card these days, since they can now pay for tickets on seven major urban transit systems using the Fitbit Pay contactless payment system.

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Millions wear Fitbit devices daily to track their jogging routes, workouts, sleep, menstrual cycles, and more as the craze for fitness apps continues to spread far and wide. The brand took advantage of this close connection with its users when it first launched Fitbit Pay on selected Fitbit wearables 2 years ago.

With its recent announced expansion to parts of the New York Metro and bus system, in line with several other digital wallet providers, Fitbit Pay support has now been extended to seven major transit systems around the world.

According to the company, Fitbit users with compatible smartwatches can tap-and-pay to board buses on Staten Island in New York, and stop on and off on routes on three separate subway lines in the city.

The pilot program marks the beginning of a long-term relationship with the NY’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), with plans to extend the program to the entire subway and bus system by 2021.

Devices that support Fitbit Pay and the new transit access feature include the Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition, Fitbit Versa Special Edition, and Fitbit Ionic. The Fitbit needs to have a NFC chip inside to work with Fitbit Pay readers.

The payment system is also now live in 42 countries, where it is supported by more than 300 banks and credit unions and can be used to pay for goods and services in thousands of stores and other locations.

If Fitbit can succeed in this sector, does that mean we will start to see more wearables geared toward fitness fanatics with their own electronic payment functionality?

Fitbit has always developed in contrast to other tech companies. When others said wearables were on the way out, it launched its own smartwatches. When the market seemed to solidify around the Apple and Google ecosystems, it created its own OS.

And, despite the handful of mobile payment systems competing in the market, the firm threw its own pebble into the fintech pond with Fitbit Pay, an investment which may be paying off if it can keep growing at such a rate.

Fitbit Pay transactions use an industry standard tokenization platform, ensuring the user’s card information is never revealed or shared with merchants or Fitbit themselves. Plus, a protected PIN is chosen by the user during the device set-up for an extra layer of protection.

Even for non-Fitbit Pay users, riding the train is getting easier, as the MTA is piloting its new OMNY tap-and-pay fare system, which will accept further digital wallets such as Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay and as well as contactless credit cards from major players such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Just under 11,000 riders used the system over the launch weekend, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Max Young said. The agency initially thought the payment system would clock up no more than 13,500 taps per week, but that number was nearly hit in just the first two days.

The MTA considers OMNY’s launch a success, and has identified few problems with the network so far, according to a spokesperson.

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