YTV funnies

Looks like the Helsinki area transport authority (YTV) is already busily upgrading their ticket systems: I've now several times managed to not get my card read, because whenever I flash the card wallet, it just shows the text "*MIFARE*". I need to take the card out of the wallet, and show only that to the reader.

The explanation is that as an old RFID geek I have an Oyster card for London metro (which is a Mifare Classic card), a FeliCa card for Tokyo metro (which is sort similar to Mifare, except it's much more versatile and actually has some non-trivial security), and a bunch of other NFC cards. Previously, this has not been a problem, since they usually all live together nicely (and I like to see when they break), but in this case, it looks like the YTV ticket readers just simply cannot fathom that a person might have some other cards other than the YTV cards.

Since Mifare is a pretty common card (there are what, 500 million of them out there, mostly in public transit and access control - several cities in Finland do use Mifare as well), I would imagine that I'm not the only one who is stymied by the text "*MIFARE*" on the reader. Just putting a Tampere transport card in the same wallet with the Helsinki transport card would do the trick. However, I can at least interpret it - because I happen to have several years of training in the area. I just hope that this is just testing, and that the YTV designers are going to build in a nicer error display in reality. Though, they do not exactly have a great track record in desiging usable interfaces, as all the people who live in the capital area know...

(I will need to check whether this happens for all ISO 14443 cards, though.)

In short: if the reader says "*MIFARE*" to you, just make sure you don't have any other cards nearby. Or your keys, as they might contain Mifare too (heck, I have a wrist watch which contains a Mifare tag...)


I have recently had number of strange error situations with readers. Readers always shows stored value, but they may forget paid period, or just refuse to use stored value. Might be due to these changes.

--AnonymousHero, 01-Sep-2008

Could well be. Or your card could be breaking down.

--JanneJalkanen, 01-Sep-2008

Hmm. I got the *MIFARE* text on the reader even though I haven't got any other RFID cards than the YTV one. It flashed by, though, and I was able to pay my trip.

--avs, 02-Sep-2008

Shouldn't be happening with those Idesco cards... Unless they show the text before they start anticollision, based on just current consumption. Which would be odd, but consistent with what you say.

--JanneJalkanen, 02-Sep-2008

Same thing here, showed just the card to machine, purse was nowhere nearby, and still it showed MIFARE couple of times. Good thing I read about it here, otherwise I might have panicked what is happening eventhough I know it shouldn't have happened with the YTV card. It happened, I think yesterday.

--Spinsteri, 02-Sep-2008

I have witnessed this "Mifare" phenomenom several times during last week, as I tend to sit near the ticketing machine due to travel sickness issues.

--Anonymous, 03-Sep-2008

-avs: me, too. No other RFIDs but the same error message every time while boarding the tram on Monday and Tuesday this week.

--Veera, 03-Sep-2008

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