- HSBC has hired professional dancers to perform in flash mobs showing passers-by in New York how customers can use the bank's contactless credit and debit cards to pay subway fares.
- All of the cards the bank has issued since 2015 are contactless — meaning users no longer have to insert them into a reader; rather, a pay terminal can pick up the card's radio frequency ID when a user is nearby. However, most customers don't realize the cards are contactless, a bank executive told American Banker.
- New York launched OMNY, a system of tap-and-go subway pay terminals, in late May. Mobile-wallet transactions make up 80% of OMNY payments, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said.
So, I stopped by HSBC's flagship branch on Fifth Ave. for the flash mob they hosted to promote contactless cards. I almost got hit by a bus to bring you this footage ???? pic.twitter.com/X7o91ZQpNg— Will Hernandez (@W_Hernandez16) August 20, 2019
U.S. banks are revisiting their efforts to issue contactless cards after most chose not to do so during the push to comply with EMV chip standards a few years ago. JPMorgan Chase wants to convert its card portfolio to tap-and-go by year’s end. Bank of America is mailing contactless cards to 4 million customers in the New York, Boston and San Francisco areas.
Contactless cards are far more common in other countries. About 62% of OMNY tap-and-go transactions stem from cards issued in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy, according to MTA data cited by American Banker.
Both the transit system and U.S. banks at large have had an on-again/off-again relationship with tap-and-go innovation. Chase was an early adapter in contactless technology, issuing blink cards as early as 2005. But when retailers and consumers were slow to embrace the change, the bank phased out the cards in 2014.
Likewise, Mastercard and Citigroup teamed up in 2006 to conduct a pilot program to test tap-and-go technology with New York's MTA. A second test independent of those companies came in 2010. But the city didn’t go all in on contactless transactions until the technology had successful runs in London and Chicago.
HSBC said it chose to stage its performances in areas where roughly 25,000 people per hour walk by. About three dozen dancers in HSBC T-shirts participated in the two-minute shows, the bank said.