The new feature was implemented Friday in Apple's latest iOS 11.3 update for its iPhones and Apple Watches that allow pre-installed hardware to be recognized by public transportation fare systems in Beijing as well as Shanghai.
Here's how it works: After downloading the Beijing Metro Transport Card (一卡通) app from the Apple store (here), users will be given an option to bind their Beijing transport cards to their Apple Pay account, through which they can recharge their cards online with amounts between 10-500 RMB. After having their devices take on the identity of their transport cards by holding them physically next to each other (shown below), users can simply swipe their iPhones at subway gates to enter.
Using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, commuters need just to place the iPhone in close proximity to the fare scanner when crossing subway turnstiles. Although the iPhone does not to be online for it to work, it does have to be powered on.
Beijing and Shanghai (shown below) are the latest Chinese cities to allow subway commuters to pay for fares using their iPhones, joining the debut of Hangzhou and Guangzhou last year.
As long awaited as the new iOS update will be to iPhone users, Apple's latest announcement arrives days after the Beijing Metro said it will introduce QR phone code payment in May that will allow commuters to pay fares directly with e-payment systems and rid them of any need for transport cards.
As if to emphasize that Apple's efforts are "too little, too late," the Beijing Metro have said they will be phasing out NFC technology in favor of the new QR scanning technology at a later unspecified time.
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