Switzerland is doing it. New York is thinking about following London’s lead and doing it. So other cities around the world with large mass transit systems should think about doing it as well. I’m talking about embracing digital currencies like Bitcoin as a form of payment for fares and services.
Infrastructure reform has been a hot topic since President Trump took office, and it is clear that any number of agencies could benefit from an infusion of innovation. Despite the fact that is regarded as the cradle of innovation, the Bay Area boasts a mass transit system in BART full of broken elevators, a shaky power grid & overcrowded trains, to the point that companies like Google have chartered their own fleet of buses for transporting employees, much to the ire of rank & file, non-tech San Franciscans. Washington D.C.’s metro system has also had its share of bad press for service outages.
Los Angeles only recently solved its transportation payments problem. The geographic area of LA is so far-flung that it takes a number of different agencies to service the necessary area, forcing customers to buy different fare cards to utilize each agency’s systems. That has recently been solved with TAP cards that are accepted by all the agencies, but imagine being able to incorporate a contactless system akin to Apple Pay, Android Pay, or a bitcoin-based system for fare payments.
As a bitcoin advocate I selfishly think this is an easy way to achieve more widespread adoption of Bitcoin & other cryptocurrencies. If transportation agencies were to invest in updated payment systems they would reap additional financial benefits building a reserves in an increasingly valuable currency. These reserves could offset the cost of other infrastructure updates. Transit riders would be better able to budget their costs in addition to having a frictionless method of payment that bridges all agencies. A more robust bitcoin transit system could be a benefit to international business travelers as well. A Bitcoin-savvy traveler could skip the currency exchange kiosk and just use Bitcoin to hop on a bus, train, taxi (or Lyft or Uber) to or from the airport.
There is much talk about the volatility of bitcoin, and the current debate over scaling has also said to be a threat to its long term viability. These are legitimate concerns. But as infrastructure reform will not happen overnight, there is plenty of time to add bitcoin as a complimentary, if not preferred method of payment for transit users in the event of mass adoption.
The world’s transportation systems could sorely use the infusion of innovation that digital currencies can provide to their payments systems. There just need to be a few more intrepid agencies willing to take the first step: get a bitcoin wallet!
Once you acquire as much BTC as possible, won't you join me in helping to tackle this brewing disaster.