So maybe it’s been easy to escape, but next week the new Snapper cards come into circulation.

Snapper USB card - this one plugs into your PCAnyone who travels on a Wellington Bus cannot have failed to notice the newly installed orange and black fish logo-ed teardrops at the front and side doors. These are the readers for the cards. Just wave the card over the reader, and value is debited from them to fund your bus trip. You can recharge them over the ‘net (but only if you have a Windows PC and a masochistic willingness to subject yourself to Internet Explorer) and at any of the supporting cafés and former 10-trip ticket sellers.

It all sounds pretty good really: no more being stuck for the right change; never a click short on your 10-trip; and never even having to think about how much extra is stop past your usual. And then there’s the possibility (as some of us, trialling Snapper, are doing now) of putting the first coffee of the morning on it as well.

And it’s cool. We like the logo; the different form factors; and just the sheer techno-geekery at play.

Others have been positive, too; Poneke has had a reasonable time with their card. So here at Wellingtonista we’re all really looking forward to it.

We do have a few questions though, (after the jump):

  • Will retailers really go for the 1% transaction fee that Snapper charge for every transaction put through it? Even when Snapper are busy collecting interest on the float taken from customers? The Retailers Association are not so sure. If retailers don’t, does this mean that Snapper is still sustainable on the buses alone, given the comments by the Snapper CEO that New Zealand’s low use of public transport meant that “our strategy has been to view this at the very beginning as a broader small value payments scheme”?
  • How private is it? How long do Snapper keep the records of all your transactions and bus trips for (other than the “indefinite period” mentioned in the Privacy Policy)? Who else may have access to these? (This ain’t cash, remember.)
  • How secure is it? Can we be sure that the cards, and the value associated with them, can’t be cloned? Are they similar, or do they use the same chipset, as the London Oyster cards, reportedly cracked in the last few months?

Questions, questions. So, does the fish have legs? We hope so…