France's Navigo travel card will improve Apple Pay support in 2023

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Riders of public transport in Paris will be able to use their iPhone or Apple Watch to handle Navigo ticket purchases without requiring the use of the physical Navigo card.

Apple offers large municipalities the ability to adopt Apple Pay Express Transit with their public transport networks, so iPhones and the Apple Watch could be used as a digital travel pass. While Paris has been slow in adopting iPhone-based travel transactions, it may make a major leap in 2023.

Regional transport authority Ile-de-France Mobilites (IDFM) has been in negotiations with Apple for a number of years, to try and reach an agreement on how to use iPhones with IDFM's Navigo card system. Now, the two sides have reached an accord.

Speaking to Le Parisien and spotted by iGeneration IDFM general manager Laurent Probst said "We cannot give a precise date yet, because it depends on the progress of the developments carried out by Apple in Cupertino. But this time, for sure, it will happen."

Since January 2021, an app was updated by IDFM to enable a Navigo pass to be reloaded by tapping an iPhone, with the latter paying for tickets using Apple Pay. While the feature does allow Apple Pay to be used to pay for thickets, it still required the use of the physical card.

Under a test phase in 2022, compatible iPhones and Apple Watches will be able to replace the Navigo pass. By 2024, tickets could be purchased directly with Apple Pay and integrated into the Wallet app itself.

At that point, users of the Paris Metro and other services will be able to take advantage of Express Transit, so that authentication can be made at stations and stops with NFC.