Payments Marketing: Transit Temptations

Mastercard is using transit payments in Chicago and New York as a way to get consumers used to contactless payments. With volumes estimated at less than .25%, contactless payments need all the push they can get.

Transit advertising in Chicago goes beyond contactless payments, however, with campaigns for Venmo’s debit cards, Zelle’s person-to-person payments, Marcus’s banking services, and the Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange.

Mastercard Tap & Go

“Is contactless payment the future of credit card payments in the U.S., or just a passing fad?,” asks Credit Karma. “The consensus seems to be ‘neither.’ It’s just one more way to pay.”

Mastercard’s Tap & Go rollout in New York and Chicago is clearly hope to change that.

The Chicago Transit Authority has supported contactless payments through its Ventra card for years and has steadily added mobile payment apps. Now it warns riders of “card clash” should they have contactless cards near a phone used for payments.



Venmo + Mastercard

Venmo linked up with Mastercard in 2018 to launch a debit card that connects to Venmo accounts. A couple stops north on the CTA Red Line from the Mastercard Tap & Go ads, Venmo is heavily pushing the Venmo card, “so you aren’t stuck waiting for Venmo funds to be moved into your bank account before you can access them,” as Lendedu puts it.

The ads follow that description, working to make Venmo a closed-loop payment account.



Belmont Bank & Trust advertises the Zelle person-to-person payment app on LaSalle St. in Chicago, a few blocks north of the LaSalle St. ad for Mastercard Tap & Go.



Marcus, the Goldman Sachs savings and lending platform, has ads in Chicago’s Ogilvie Transportation Center, where commuter trains serve the Northwest suburbs.

Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange

I call this the cryptobus. It’s on the 157 CTA bus, though that may reflect my route to the Loop, and I’ve seen it since May. I wonder if I could pay with by bitcoin wallet on this one.


Cards are Catholic

My favorite payments photo from the summer so far, however, is in Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, which accepts cars for donations.