Innovation Blog

MBTA: FinTech Startup Challenges 2019


You probably know the MBTA as the operator of buses, trains, ferries, and paratransit across the Massachusetts Bay region. If you live in or around Boston, we’re hard to miss across the 175 cities and towns in our service district.

But you might not think of the MBTA as one of the largest payment operators in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In our last fiscal year, we collected over $660 million in fares and $50 million in parking fees. That effectively makes the T one of the largest retail operations in the state.

Much of our payment infrastructure is old and out-of-date. But we’re in the process of overhauling everything about it. The MBTA recently awarded a contract to implement a new fare payment system which will enable significant improvements in every part of the T. Work is already underway, and the new system will be rolling out across the entire MBTA system in 2020, with pilots beginning next year.

What’s changing? You’ll be able to board at any door on a vehicle, which will cut travel times by 10%; you’ll be able to use your smartphone or contactless credit card at any station; you’ll be able to pay before you board more easily and manage your account online; and major accessibility improvements will make the system better for all of our customers.

We think this will make a big difference for every T customer just on its own. But we also think that there are ideas in the Fintech space that can take our new fare platform and make it even better for our customers and the Commonwealth. We don’t have all the answers, and the level and speed of innovation happening in Fintech offers a real opportunity to more rapidly deliver better solutions.

One could lump these solutions under the broad umbrella of “Mobility as a Service” products. More specifically, several possibilities come to mind.

Our Challenges Are:

  • Enhancing Access for All Customers: Leveraging the AFC2.0 platform, or other MBTA platforms, to provide connections to federal and state social safety net programs, improve access to banking systems, or other solutions.
  • Payment Extensibility: Extending the new fare payment system to deliver new mobility or non-transit applications.
  • Rewards Programs: Creating incentive and reward programs for existing or new MBTA customers – to drive new ridership, or to help us provide better service.

We’re interested in other ideas across the MBTA, too. Innovations in payment settlement could help the MBTA take better advantage of its large fare and balances – helping us to use that money to deliver better service. Third-party integrations with ERP and operational platforms could help us drive greater efficiencies and improve business processes – helping us, again, to deliver better services for our customers.

How Will We Help Startups Grow Their Businesses

With so much changing in the worlds of mobility and Fintech, and with the improvements coming in our fare payment system, we are incredibly excited to partner with MassChallenge to bring the best and most innovative ideas to work for our customers and the Commonwealth.


Evan Rowe, Director of Revenue, MBTA


Apply at by October 12, 2018 at 12:00PM (noon) ET.  Evan Rowe, Director of Revenue, MBTA


Browse the list below to learn more about the challenges issued by MassChallenge FinTech partners for the 2019 program.



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