Snapper Speed Test


Snapper card has put up a video showing a speed test between a Snapper transaction and a Chip and PIN credit card transaction.

However there is the issue of security which a PIN enables.

Snapper transactions though are for often low transaction use such as in retail or taxi rides.




  1. Stranded on the North Shore says:

    @JonC - Yes, but these two cards are two different types security-wise. If you think of the “tap&go” cards such as snapper as “electronic CASH” - then it all makes sense. If you loose the card, then you lost the “cash”. For that reason it shouldn’t be linked to your bank account or have credit under your name. It’s a stored value prepaid “cash” card. Like your wallet.

  2. GJA says:

    Will they be rolling it out to vending machines ;-)

  3. Scott says:

    I think Octopus is way faster.

  4. Stranded on the North Shore says:

    @Scott: It’s as fast as Hong Kong’s Octopus. The 4 seconds include setting up the purchase on the “EFTPOS” terminal. The transaction itself is split of a second… In a shop with integrated POS the setting up part would’ve been done by the computer automatically. In dairies and shops using manual-cash-registers, it would still take that long.

    Now, this will really take off, if the shops that accept the Snapper (or Thales’ RFID cards) also are forced to process Top-Ups… That’s the ultimate convenience for the consumer and we can then go to cash-free buses (no more $20 bills to the driver asking passengers for the change!!!)… I hope that Thales are onto it and that Snapper will be compatible with whatever Thales are setting up.

  5. Nick R says:

    Hmmm, if Snapper is basing their buisiness model around ‘mini-eftpos’ they might have lost out already.

    Commonwealth/VISA is currently rolling out an identical thing using their regular credit and eftpos cards. All new bank cards are fitted with RF chips and you simply wave it past the reader.

    How will Snapper survive when all new eftpos terminals could have exactly the same functionality without needing a special card?

  6. Scott says:

    Octopus is faster.

    “Note: Don’t wave or “swipe” your Snapper. The reader needs time to be able to “talk” to your Snapper in order to work. Hold your Snapper to the reader and keep it still until you see the green circle. The tagging on process takes less than a second, so you won’t be there long!”

    I can’t find the actual time but to tag on snapper takes “less than one second” i assume that means close to one second.

    Octopus takes 0.3 seconds to tag on. There is none of the need to hold the card against the reader and wait. a tap is enough.

  7. Hi everyone

    Thanks for the comments. I’ll reply to each one


    We provide retailers with the option to process top-ups depending on their business. For example Subway want to get people to pay for their sandwich as opposed to do top-ups. Having said that, I would estimate about 90% of our retailers do both.

    You are right about cash free buses too - really improves performance if top-ups are not an on-bus function. Needs a strong retail and online presence to make it work. Also works well when pass sales are removed from the bus too. We’ve recently added that function to the MySnapper application



    @Nick R

    We think a model that combines the two elements of PT and Retail is important, rather than something that does one or the other.

    @Scott you’re comparing Octopus’s with Snappers so to speak.

    We love what Octopus have done - and having spent some time with the guys from the MTR last week, it was humbling to hear them admire what some of things we are doing with Snapper’s online services and with products like taxis (they’re not there yet). We have a longer list of things we admire about them :)

    If you wave your Octopus card over a reader it simply won’t let you through the gate or onto the bus also. You have to tap it to the reader as you said. It’s the same with Snapper. We had to introduce this language because lots of customers were waving their card over the reader instead of tapping. Octopus Tips tend to indicate the same

    This video shows the transaction speed of Snapper in bus in Wellington

    Because the person doing the video was also holding the card, it overstates the processing time from what we see in practice (approx. 0.5 sec).

    The drivers of transaction time are pretty simple - its the fare policy complexity.

    In a straight retail transaction we’ve had to introduce some delays into the system as the transaction time was in the 100ms range - too quick for a customer to notice. That’s driven by the fact that you’re making a very simple calculation - deduct a fixed amount from the electronic purse.

    For example in the case of Octopus on bus, the entire fare is calculated at tag-on as its a fixed price depending on where you board, and independent of where you disembark. Very simple. No Tag-off

    In the case of Octopus on the MTR, there is a very simple fare policy also. Take the Island line, there are only four fares that are payable on that line depending on where you board and exit.If you change to another line, say the Tsuen Wan line, there’s only 3 possible fare combinations there. The most complex appears to be the very long East Rail line with 16 combinations.

    You can see the pricing for MTR here

    Contrast this to the Wellington fare policy where the calculation at tag-on for bus takes into account the following fare policy elements

    - Current location
    - Time of day for transfer discounts
    - Time since last tag-off to determine if a transfer discount is valid
    - whether you tagged off on the previous journey (and incurred a non-tag off penalty)
    - Whether your last trip put you into a negative balance and you have an IOU to repay.

    Tag-off has to take into account
    - the boarding location to calculate the remaining fare payable
    - Writes the departure location onto the card (to provide the information that’s used to calculate transfer discounts for your next trip
    - writes a zero penalty
    - And writes the IOU amount if you haven’t got enough in your purse to pay.

    So simplifying fare policy is critical in the optimisation of transaction times.

    Despite this when look at dwell times (as GWRC did in pages 43-45 of this report there is no observable difference between dwell time in a system that requires tagging off or not tagging off.

    So a fairly long answer for you there. Hope that it helps.



  8. Andrew says:

    I prefer dolphins!

  9. Andrew T says:

    I thank Mr Szikszai for taking the trouble to put forward such a comprehensive reply to queries.
    I do want him to know many of us can not wait until Snapper is released here(in Auck). I have a Go Rider card and noticed today how long it took to get people on the bus because so many people fumbled aorund with money - why do they get to the driver and then look for their cash! (the first bus was actually full and couldnt take any more people which was frustrating but a good sign).
    It would speed things up if we had the awesome Wellington Snapper system and everyone bought into it here and we had more retailers we could use the card . plus taxis! Oh yes, a taxi late at night using Snapper would be heaven.

  10. Andy says:

    Here in South Korea transport chips are built into most credit cards and the fees are charged directly to your account. No need to worry about topping up or running out. They also do everything talked about above. (transfers, tag off, location, taxis, vending machines, stores etc.) Soooooo easy.

  11. @Andrew T

    My pleasure in getting the answers to you.


  12. jarbury says:

    I hope Thales’s card is called the “Shark Card” or the “Mako Card”. Sharks eat snappers don’t they?

  13. Nigel says:

    Did I see the Snapper CEO write that “Tag off includes an action to:
    Writes the departure location onto the card (to provide the information that’s used to calculate transfer discounts for your next trip”

    First I’ve ever heard of that! Is that really how it works in Wellington?

  14. WestieCommuter says:

    Some buses in Sydney had a nice combination system where one line on the left goes to the driver for cash transactions and a line on the right swipes their card at the RFID reader and walks on. Not sure about compliance but it seemed OK to me though I didn’t use it at a peak time. They also have buses that are ‘pre-pay only’ - no cash transactions allowed - and 2 readers, one on each side of the aisle. That seemed to work well, too. I think Aussie buses had wider aisles, though.

  15. Luke says:

    I remember reading recently is that this is the plan for Auckland.
    I wonder if visitors will be able to get temporary cards that they can return for a refund when they leave. This works well with the Oyster in London.

  16. @Andy

    South Korea is a great parallel - Snapper has partnered with T-Money in Seoul to bring that system to NZ. We’re looking at co-issuing models also




    Yes - you did read correctly. Transfer discounts have been in place on ValleyFlyer services for over a year.


    The ‘cash on the left, Snapper on the right’ approach is what we have done in Wellington. Works well in general although some of the smaller buses there isn’t quite enough room to get past.


  17. karl says:

    Well, according to how I understand the requirements of integrated ticketing, whatever Snapper comes up with will have to be compatible with Thales’ system (or more to the point, NZ Bus’ vehicles would have to, and there seems little sense in them having two different reader systems in each bus).

    As long as that is the case, and there’s no sneaky attempt to introduce a parallel, NON-integrated standard, I’m all welcoming Snapper being innovative and giving us more uses for the card than just PT alone.


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