What technology does Contactless Payment use?

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What technology does Contactless Payment use?

Contactless payment technology is increasingly used for everyday transactions. Awareness and demand has increased among consumers since the push for low-contact transactions over the last few years has escalated.

The good news is the vast majority of consumers already have access to a contactless payment method  via their credit and debit cards or any smartphone “mobile wallet.” Importantly, the ability to process contactless payments is dependent on the POS system of the merchant, or in the case of transit agencies, the type of farebox being used to collect payments. Without the correct payment processors, customers cannot use contactless payments that they already own. Thus any transit agency that does not have the correct farebox technology is unable to take advantage of contactless payments.

Let’s explore the way contactless payments utilize cutting-edge technology to provide a safe, secure, and fast transaction.


RFID is an acronym for “Radio Frequency Identification.” RFID technology encrypts information that can be transmitted wirelessly via radio waves. RFID can be used at far distances as a sort of long-distance barcode scanner for inventory management, race timing, and other kinds of tracking.

RFID systems require two parties: the transmitter and the receiver, or—in the case of a transaction like purchasing fare—a payer and a payee. 

When used for contactless payment, RFID technology is deployed via a small computer chip inside a credit or debit card or a smartphone. A kind of RFID system called NFC is actually so secure its use is mandated by the U.S. Department of Defense and is required in many countries’ passports.

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NFC is an acronym for “Near Field Communication.” NFC is a kind of RFID technology that requires the transmitting and receiving devices to be very close to each other, usually within a 1-2”. While RFID can do very long-range information transmission, NFC is a subset of this technology that uses a different, higher frequency requiring much closer contact. 

This is why NFC is used for contactless payments. The process of holding a chipped card or smartphone directly against the reader provides an extra layer of security. 

Further, NFC is the technology used by smartphones that have enabled mobile wallets, such as ApplePay.

EMV Chip

EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. Specifically, the EMV chip is the physical “antennae” necessary for RFID/NFC contactless payments using credit cards. 

Here’s the catch—while all EMV chips are capable of NFC contactless payments, the ability to do such a transaction relies on the payee. If the POS or farebox collecting the payment cannot process NFC payments, the chip is then used by inserting the card into the reader. This chip-insertion process is still very secure, but it takes longer and usually requires a PIN to complete the transaction, upping the length and contact risks of every transaction.

It is vital that transit agencies, as an essential service, upgrade their systems to accept contactless payments. With automated fareboxes like Vix Technology’s, transit agencies can process these payments to reduce dwelling time, minimize close contact, and allow for physical barriers between riders and drivers.

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How can Vix Technology help?

Vix Technology has been in the transit fare industry for over 35 years. Today we service over 200 transit agencies around the globe with over 500,000 devices helping riders process over 5 billion fares per year.

With offices in Europe, North America, and Africa, as well as experience in launching fare collection strategies in Asia and Australia, we are truly a global company. We are comfortable accommodating any local or national regulation and can provide detailed proposals that guide government agencies toward approval based on our proven data on efficiency and cost-savings.

We guarantee our products and services with ongoing support. We help design, install, launch, maintain, and upgrade our systems to provide exceptional service for transit agencies as well as riders.