Presto Reader at College Station now accepting Mastercard and Visa!

A commenter named Manic brought to my attention earlier today that he had heard that the new style Presto reader at College Station was accepting Mastercard PayPass and Visa Paywave. I’m happy to confirm that it’s totally true!

As luck would have it, I was heading to College station today anyway, and as you can make out in the quick photo I took, Visa and Mastercard logos now adorn the card reader area. The lack of Interac Flash is conspicuous, there isn’t even a place for the decal. Then again, Flash cards aren’t being issued yet, and I’ve only seen a few readers with their logo.

I tested the unit this morning with a Canadian issued MasterCard credit card, and it worked perfectly. Later on in the day, I experimented with my U.S. issued Debit Mastercard, and it also worked perfectly. The photo captures how the unit reacts when a transaction is successful, and is showing a green arrow, and a transaction cost of $3.00.

I was alarmed to see a $3.00 cost, as a Presto card uses the token fare of $2.60. It’s my conjecture that a cash fare is charged to offset credit processing fees, and to give an incentive to use a Presto card. Considering that it would be impossible to have a system that allowed real-time electronics transfers without a dedicated smart card, I feel that is the biggest incentive to get the Presto (you’ll never forget to grab a transfer again!). I’d be disappointed if they had to keep the paper transfers around, and the technicality of a retroactive system would be mind-boggling, and totally not cost-effective in processing fees.

It would be interesting to know the processor for the transactions, Presto itself uses Moneris. It’s also worth noting that Presto itself accepts American Express to load, so if you’re keen on your SPG or MR points, it’s worth it (unless somehow magically the terminal takes AmEx. I haven’t tested that, but lacking a decal and the costs, I doubt it).

What’s more interesting is that my U.S. online banking marked the transaction as pending within a few hours, and only for $1.97. That is below any fare, and is even after currency conversion. I am looking forward to seeing if this is an error, or if it is going to settle the transaction at around $3.00. It’s also worth noting that my bank processed it as a debit, and not credit, transaction. So it is safe to say these units will support the new Visa Debit cards from CIBC and TD.

I do like “College Station Toronto” would be nice to see “TTC” in there too though.

I think this will be a wonderful resource for tourists, who will have even less of a barrier to entry to the subway. It may not be worth it to buy tokens for a couple day trip, or they may not have Canadian change. Think of a future where a New Yorker can hop off at Billy Bishop Aeroport, tap his Mastercard onto the Harbourfront LRT, and hop his way onto the subway without ever having to talk to a soul, or hit up an ATM for Canadian money.

Last note, but possibly most important. Presto Card readers have a chronic problem with reporting that they’re out of order. The worst part is, they usually are totally in order. I’ve used readers  with them blinking “out of order” and always have had them work. So if you see a reader that says “Out of Order”, don’t be disheartened, try it anyway!