Victoria To Trial Using Smartphones For Transport Smartcards

Victoria To Trial Using Smartphones For Transport Smartcards
Image: Samsung and Creative Commons

The Myki smart card system used by Victorians for accessing public transport is getting dragged into the 21st century. A trial is about to commence that will allow passengers to touch on and off from trains, busses and trams using their smartphone. However, as Apple doesn’t yet allow developers to use the NFC radio in iPhones, the trial will be limited to Android devices.

The new app, called Mobile myki, will allow you to top up on the go, check the balance of your Mobile myki, avoid queues at myki machines and reduce the chance of forgetting or losing your physical myki card.

As someone with five cards as the result of forgetting one and having to buy another in order to get around, this would be a great step forward although I’m an iPhone user and won’t be part of the trial. Public Transport Victoria said in a statement “The trial will commence in the coming months, through a limited, industry-based test group of users on Android devices before extending to a wider, public test group later in the year”.

Earlier today, I reported on rumours that Apple will be opening up access to the NFC radio in their devices during next week’s WWDC developer shindig. If that happens that will be a welcome move as, based on recent data from IDC, the iPhone is the most popular smartphone platform in Australia.

Hopefully, Mobile myki will have a better start than the Myki system which was dogged by project delays and a farcical photo opp where the minister unveiling the system had the card reader fall apart and the top-up machine refusing to collect her money during a staged demonstration.

The existing physical myki card will continue to remain in use during and after the trial with a decision about whether Mobile myki will be made available for all passengers coming in the new year.

If you’re interested you’ll need to ensure you have a registered Myki card.


  • How long will the trial take? I’m guessing if the Labor politicians are involved it’ll be five years longer than normal and ten times the budget allocated.

      • Myki (the company) wrote the tender for the smartcard system, they bid for it, and despite having no experience, ‘won’ the tender. Then took 5 years to build it at 5 times the original budget. This was one of Labor’s biggest white elephant projects. I’m not holding my breath that they can do smartphone NFC with their technology.

  • Now to be able to get off the tram when it stops at a red light… Tram stop at light. Must wait to get off. Tram moves forward to get beyond red light in order to stop and let people off.

  • There shodulnt be any reason iPhones wouldn’t be able to join the party even without dev access to NFC. I used to use my iPhone 6 for woolworths rewards via NFC until it died and i replaced it with a Nokia 6 android (i did all of 30minutes research though, just wanted a cheap phone that supported NFC that wasn’t a load of crap).

    Ironically i cant seem to use woolworths rewards via NFC on android but i could on iPhone, where on iPhone my bank didn’t support Apple Pay but does support Google Pay.

    Either way, it’ll be great until people are left with a flat battery, hopefully they will have allowances for that, or if you use your phone for myki then you also have to carry a charged battery backup as well just in case.

      • I presume your talking about WW Rewards, i don’t think MiKi has a barcode

        a) If not using self checkouts, you have to either give your phone to the checkout operator, or lean around and do it yourself as opposed to tapping on the eftpos), at least coles has the flybuys scanners.

        b) I already use the barcode via google pay (which is nice it goes max brightness
        automatically), while my new phone is better than the iPhone, not all scanners pick up a scan of a screen.

        c) NFC is cooler than barcodes.

      • The WW Rewards card works using Apple Wallet – open wallet, select WWR instead of your credit card, and tap it on the reader between scanning your first item and selecting payment, same as when you’d scan the card’s barcode. You’ll even see the prompts on WW EFTPOS readers, just look at the screen once you’ve scanned your first item. This is the same for self-checkouts and staffed ones. Check it out:

        Point is, if Woolworths can use Apple’s inbuilt Wallet and NFC, why can’t MyKi?

        Edit: link

  • sounds better than the BS sydney are talking about where if you use your phone its a full fare single ticket charged to your bank account every time.

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