Android only: Leap Card top-up app not for iPhone users

National Transport Authority keen to extend service, requiring access to Apple Pay service

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe and Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority, at the launch of a new Leap Card application for Android phones. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe and Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority, at the launch of a new Leap Card application for Android phones. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

Leap Card users are now able to top up their accounts by using a new app on their phones, but only on Android devices.

The app allows users to check their balance, which can then be topped up instantly by touching the Leap Card against their phones.

The new development utilises Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless payment technology, which is available on all NFC-enabled Android devices which run KitKat 4.4 or later versions of the operating system.

The app is available to download through the Google Play store, however, the mobile payment function cannot be rolled out to Apple devices, a spokeswoman for the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed, meaning iPhone users will have to do without the new facility.

The company has taken a more conservative approach towards contactless payment methods generally than has been the case with Android developers.

This can currently only be done on iPhones in countries where Apple Pay is enabled- of which Ireland is not one - and it does not allow transactions to be made through third-party apps in any event.

The NTA confirmed that developers of the Leap Card app were in contact with Apple regarding NFC capability for iPhones prior to Monday’s launch.

The NTA said it remains “very interested” in extending the facility to iPhones but could not provide a timeline of when this might happen.

Apple did not respond to questions from The Irish Times at the time of writing.

Commenting on the app, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said it had come about following an extensive period of customer consultations and trials.

“The NTA is to be commended for the forward thinking they have shown in respect of how to further improve Leap services,” he said.

“By listening to their customers and identifying an area that could make using Leap Cards even easier they set about addressing customers’ needs through advances in digital technology.”

Leap Card cities

More than 1.5 million Leap Cards have now been issued and its implementation has been rolled out across various cities including Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick over recent years.

While Luas and rail commuters could top up at a ticket terminal at the start of their journey there had been some dissatisfaction among bus users who had no tailored remote top-up facility, but this anomaly has now been comprehensively addressed according to NTA chief executive Anne Graham.

“We have been listening to customer feedback, and our bus customers in particular were telling us that they would welcome a more convenient top-up process,” she said.

“Today’s new app means that people can make top-up or ticket collections, using credit or debit cards, while they are on their way from A to B, or in the comfort of their own homes at night – whenever suits them – and start using them straightaway.”

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