Believe It: We Just Paid For A MRT Ride In Kuala Lumpur Using An Apple Watch

MRT Putrajaya Line - Apple Watch - Apple Pay - Jan 2023

Rapid KL is quietly testing a new payment option for MRT in the form of bank, credit, and debit cards. However, this particular payment option which is called “Bank Card” is only available for token purchase and seems that it is being activated only on one specific model of Token Vending Machine (TVM) at random stations within the MRT Putrajaya line.

The activation of the payment option was first highlighted by Amir Azmi who shared his experience with it on the Malaysian Land Public Transport Fans (MLPTF) Facebook group. The post was then highlighted by Lowyat.NET Forumers liberty0480 and PoisonSoul in the Apple Pay thread.

Based on Amir’s screenshot, I believe his experience took place on 26 January at a TVM in the Sri Damansara Timur station. However, when I visited the station earlier today and try to utilise the same ticket machine myself, the Bank Card payment option was greyed out:

MRT Putrajaya Line - Apple Watch - Apple Pay - Jan 2023

Not wanting to wave the white flag just yet, I decided to visit several other MRT stations on both Kajang and Putrajaya lines to find a TVM with the option enabled. During this search, I then noticed that both lines have been equipped with two different TVM models which I found rather intriguing.

MRT Bukit Bintang - MRT Kajang TVM - Jan 2023
TVMs at MRT Bukit Bintang which is part of the MRT Kajang line.
MRT Kg Batu - MRT Putrajaya TVM - Jan 2023
TVMs at MRT Kampung Batu which is part of the MRT Putrajaya Phase 1 route.

I eventually ended up at Kampung Batu which is the current end station for MRT Putrajaya Line as the route’s Phase 2 section will only be opened this March. Hence, it is also the last station on my list but to my delight, I found that the Bank Card option on the TVM at this station has been enabled.

Shortly after, I then proceed to purchase an MRT token with Abdullah Hukum as my destination using Apple Watch and you can check out the whole process, as it happens right here:

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In his post, Amir noted that the processing time took almost a minute. During my experience, it was not as seamless as I want it to be but nevertheless, the processing time was not that long at around 15 seconds which is not far off from the usual contactless payment processing time.

Even though I didn’t test them, I don’t think it is a problem for a physical card as well as devices that support Samsung Pay and Google Pay to utilise MRT’s Bank Card payment option. After all, Amir has noted in the MLPTF’s post that he even managed to make payments using cards that were issued in Singapore.

MRT Putrajaya Line - Apple Watch - Apple Pay - Jan 2023
The payment receipt from the TVM.
Apple Watch - Apple Pay - Jan 2023
The transaction record in Apple Watch clearly stated MRT Kampung Batu.
MAE Maybank App - Apple Watch - Apple Pay - Jan 2023
The same goes for the MAE app, as the card that I used with the Apple Watch was a Maybank Visa card.

In many ways, this is a step in the right direction. It is about time that the public transportation system receives an upgrade to support multiple cashless payment options instead of relying solely on the ye-olde Touch ‘n Go card.

Of course, I would like to see the option implemented directly on the automated gates themselves rather than just for token purchases. Despite what I have just seen and experienced today, I doubt that Rapid KL is going to make the Bank Card payment option available to the public anytime soon though.

Rapid KL MyDebit - Jan 2023
Forever “Sistem Sedang Diuji”.

For one, there is still no official announcement regarding it. Then, let’s not forget about the “white elephant” that is the MyDebit card terminals which are still being left running like showpieces on LRT gates with the “Testing In Progress” label on them since almost three years ago.

Yup, it has been almost three years now. We already have the tech and the payment terminals are also already there in place, so why we are still stuck with just Touch ‘n Go cards till now? What really stopping us from having another cashless payment option?

MRT Bangkok - Maybank Visa Card - July 2022
I seamlessly paid for my MRT Bangkok ride back in July last year with just a tap of my Malaysian-issued Maybank card.

Our neighbouring countries like Singapore and Thailand effortlessly implemented credit and debit card payment options for their public transportation. That being said, I hope I will be proven wrong and finally get to see some progress happening in 2023.

(Thanks for the tips, Kevin Ng!)

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