Central bank rolls out national contactless transit ticketing system in Costa Rica

Person using contactless card to make transit ticketing payment on costa Rican bus
OPEN LOOP: Costa Ricans will soon be able to make contactless fare payments for all bus and rail travel

Public transport users in Costa Rica will soon be able to make contactless fare payments across all the country’s rail and bus networks with their EMV contactless card or device using a national multimodal transit ticketing system.

The National Electronic Payment System for Public Transportation (SINPE-TP) is being rolled out by the Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR) and is one of the first contactless transit ticketing systems in the world to be implemented by a central bank.

BCCR initially launched the system on rail services operated by the state-owned Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer) in October 2021 and has now begun working with some 350 different bus operators to make it available on more than 5,000 buses nationwide, starting with seven routes in the capital San José in April this year.

The system currently enables passengers to purchase single flat fares on a pay-as-you-go basis, but “can be configured to apply fare caps and discounts, as well as other fare models that Costa Rican transport services may require in the future”, says transit payment processing provider Littlepay.

“Initially, the system will support payments made using Mastercard, Visa and American Express contactless cards and their linked devices. At a later stage, mobile wallet options such as Google Pay and Apple Pay will be added, as well as mobile QR code payments.”

“The public transport sector has been at the forefront of the BCCR’s strategy for the digitisation of the Costa Rican payment system, with a strong focus on contactless payments,” Littlepay adds.

“The BCCR estimated that incorporating contactless open loop payments into public transport services could reduce cash payments nationwide by 25%.”

Costa Rica revealed plans to introduce the national NFC and QR transit ticketing system in May 2020.

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