Commuters in Singapore can now pay for transport and food by holding out their smartphones.

Certain phones with a new kind SIM card can be used to pay for trains, buses, taxis, food and shopping. Users will no longer need a separate card to pay for these.

They will also be able to check their balance value, read their transaction history, and top-up the value on their phones.

The mobile phones and SIM cards must be capable of using Near Field Communications, which lets the phone exchange data with a reader by bringing the two next to each other.

The service was today launched following a trial from August 2014 to February 2016 on trains and buses by 1,000 users. The test was jointly conducted by the Land Transport Authority, Infocomm Development Authority and EZ-Link.

“We have been testing various innovative fare payment systems,” said Chew Men Leong, LTA’s Chief Executive.

“Bringing these NFC SIMs and mobile phone models into the public transit ticketing environment bears fruit to LTA’s on-going efforts to leverage on technology to bring greater convenience to commuters through new and convenient ways to pay for travel”, he added.

All three of Singapore’s mobile network operators, SingTel, Starhub and M1, today launched NFC SIM cards which will allow people to use this service.

Singapore hopes to take this technology a step further one day, when people will not need to tap in at ticket barriers. The transport agency has issued a request for information for how commuters can be charged automatically when they step onto a bus or train.

Image by Khalzuri Yazid, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0