A major update to the Presto app put out this week means that most smartphone users can now tap their Presto cards to their phones to instantly reload funds.

Because of logistic concerns in the original Presto system, users sometimes experienced a wait of up to 24 hours before funds that were reloaded through the app or website were reflected on card balances.

The update means that users can now reload funds through the app, tap their Presto cards to their phones, and their balance will instantly updated.

The function was previously available to Android users, but has now been rolled out to iPhones as well.

Customers can also reload their Presto cards in the app using Google Wallet and Apple Pay.

Only phones with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology will be able to take advantage of the feature. The technology is the same standard that allows people to use their phones for tap payments at stores.

NFC has been included in most Android devices released over the past decade and in all versions of the iPhone since the iPhone 6 was released in 2014. Metrolinx said that the features in the updated app will work on iPhone 7 and higher, when running iOS13 or higher.  

However Presto customers will have to wait a little while longer before their phones replace their physical Presto cards.

In an email to CP24.com, Metrolinx said that giving customers the ability to pay for rides by tapping their phones to Presto terminals is part of a modernization effort that is currently underway, but not ready yet.

“We know our customers want, and expect, to have more payment options,” Metrolinx spokesperson Matt Llewellyn said. “We’re in the midst of a modernization program that will give customers across all participating transit agencies the ability to pay their fare with credit, debit and phones in addition to PRESTO, as well as through a ‘virtual’ version of the PRESTO card.

“To lay the groundwork for this, new devices are already being rolled out on GO Transit and other transit agencies as we prepare for everyone to pay with debit, credit or phones.”

Llewellyn did not include a timeline, but said that Metrolinx will be launching an open payment pilot project later this year to “continue transforming how our customers pay for transit.”

Details on the plan are expected to be released in the coming months.