Transport Ticketing Global 2020

We were at TTGlobal (28-29 Jan 2020) this year for the fifth year running. It was a much bigger event in Kensington Olympia, London, with around 30% more attendees. This blog is a summary of how the two days went for us.

Day 1

The Plenary session had a surprise guest in the form of the Future of Transport Minister, George Freeman. He spoke eloquently about subjects very close to our hearts:

  • Seamless end-to-end ticketing
  • Integrated PAYG
  • Sustainability: he explained that the emissions of the transport sector are expected to double by 2050 unless something radical is done.

I have written before about a shift in government thinking about mobility that seems to be taking place. Let’s hope this signals more of the same and is followed with positive, decisive action.

Our CEO, Neil McEvoy, moderated the plenary panel on ‘the role of ticketing and urban transport policies in delivering MaaS,’ with panellists from:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Government of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dallas Areas Rapid Transit, USA
  • Uber

Picture1

It was felt that to meet public policy objectives on congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions, facilitating multi-modal, door-to-door, everyday journeys would be key. Facilitating journeys outside of a traveller’s home city or region is welcome but won’t meet wider goals alone.

Highlight of the rest of Day 1 included:

  • An update on the Future of Oyster from Transport for London. There are still no plans to turn it off, though the uptake of bank cards by the travelling public continues to rise steadily.
  • The Masabi presentation about Fare Payments as Service which was the subject of a recent podcast I made with Ben Whitaker.
  • Contactless bank card ticketing has come of age. There were lots of presentations about cEMV roll outs. Visa announced that they have solutions to the classic problems with bank cards (they don’t work for the unbanked or family groups). Contact them if you want to learn more.

Day 2

I moderated a panel about the future of ticketing technologies with panellists from:

  • Deutsche Bahn, Germany
  • GVB, Netherlands
  • The Human Chain, UK
  • Department for Transport, UK

Picture2

We made a whistle-stop tour of up and coming technologies relevant to the different actors in the Mobility ecosystem, ranging from big data and augmented reality for Data Providers to Open Banking and distributed ledger technology for Maas Providers.

Other highlights for me from Day 2 included:

  • The UK’s Rail Delivery Group’s presentation on developing insight from barcode data, linking tickets sold with tickets scanned to inform revenue protection.
  • An update from Transport for the North on their Integrated and Smart Travel activities.
  • A presentation by MOTC about the difficulties faced by Qatar which currently is massively dependent on the private car and their plans to address the congestion problems they face.

Exhibition

I spent most of my time in the exhibition hall talking with contacts and vendors. I wish there had been time to attend more of the presentations.

I took the opportunity to record another podcast while at the event. This time with Eric Reese, CEO of ByteMark over from New York.

Awards

Once again, I was delighted to be one of the panel of judges for the awards presented at the Gala Dinner and Awards held at the Science Museum and hosted by comedian Phil Wang. It was decided by the judges to introduce a Highly Commended tier this year within each award category. This is in recognition that the standard or submissions was generally high. So, while Moscow won the Best Smart Ticketing Programme 2020, both of the following were Highly Commended:

  • Flowbird Transport Intelligence & Lothian Buses for their smooth role out of contactless payments card acceptance in Edinburgh in time for the Edinburgh Festival dramatic rise in population and bus usage;
  • Rail Delivery Group & Cubic Transportation Systems for the delivery of barcode ticketing under budget and achieving collaboration between 19 Train Operating Companies.

Overall, the event was a great success and great fun to be part of. Here’s to next year.

At Consult Hyperion we have experience globally with transport and mobile ticketing and deploying the latest technologies. If you would like to learn more, give us a call.

Consult Hyperion’s Live 5 for 2020

At Consult Hyperion we take a certain amount of enjoyment looking back over some of our most interesting projects around the world over the previous year or so, wrapping up thoughts on what we’re hearing in the market and spending some time thinking about the future. Each year we consolidate the themes and bring together our Live Five.

2020 is upon us and so it’s time for some more future gazing! Now, as in previous years, how can you pay any attention to our prognostications without first reviewing our previous attempts? In 2017 we highlighted regtech and PSD2, 2018 was open banking and conversational commerce, and for 2019 it was secure customer authentication and digital wallets — so we’re a pretty good weathervane for the secure transactions’ world! Now, let’s turn to what we see for this coming year.

Hello 2020

Our Live Five has once again been put together with particular regard to the views of our clients. They are telling us that over the next 12 months retailers, banks, regulators and their suppliers will focus on privacy as a proposition, customer intimacy driven by hyper-personalisation and personalized payment options, underpinned by a focus on cyber-resilience. In the background, they want to do what they can to reduce their impact on the global environment. For our transit clients, there will be a particular focus on bringing these threads together to reduce congestion through flexible fare collection.

So here we go…

1. This year will see privacy as a consumer proposition. This is an easy prediction to make, because serious players are going to push it. We already see this happening with “Sign in with Apple” and more services in this mould are sure to follow. Until quite recently privacy was a hygiene factor that belonged in the “back office”. But with increasing industry and consumer concerns about privacy, regulatory drivers such as GDPR and the potential for a backlash against services that are seen to abuse personal data, privacy will be an integral part of new services. As part of this we expect to see organisations that collect large amounts of personal data looking at ways to monetise this trend by shifting to attribute exchange and anonymised data analytics. Banks are an obvious candidate for this type of innovation, but not the only one – one of our biggest privacy projects is for a mass transit operator, concerned by the amount of additional personal information they are able to collect on travellers as they migrate towards the acceptance of contactless payment cards at the faregate.

2. Underpinning all of this is the urgent need to address cyber-resilience. Not a week goes by without news of some breach or failure by a major organisation putting consumer data and transactions at risk. With the advent of data protection regulations such as GDPR, these issues are major threats to the stability and profitability of companies in all sectors. The first step to addressing this is to identify the threats and vulnerabilities in existing systems before deciding how and where to invest in countermeasures.

Our Structured Risk Analysis (SRA) process is designed to help our customers through this process to ensure that they are prepared for the potential issues that could undermine their businesses.

3. Privacy and Open Data, if correctly implemented and trusted by the consumer, will facilitate the hyper-personalisation of services, which in turn will drive customer intimacy. Many of us are familiar with Google telling us how long it will take us to get home, or to the gym, as we leave the office. Fewer of us will have experienced the pleasure of being pushed new financing options by the first round of Open Banking Fintechs, aimed at helping entrepreneurs to better manage their start-up’s finances.

We have already demonstrated to our clients that it is possible to use new technology in interesting ways to deliver hyper-personalisation in a privacy-enhancing way. Many of these depend on the standardization of Premium Open Banking API’s, i.e. API’s that extend the data shared by banks beyond that required by the regulators, into areas that can generate additional revenue for the bank. We expect to see the emergence of new lending and insurance services, linked to your current financial circumstances, at the point of service, similar to those provided by Klarna.

4. One particular area where personalisation will have immediate impact is giving consumers personalised payment options with new technologies being deployed, such as EMV’s Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) and W3C’s payment request API. Today, most payment solutions are based around payment cards but increasingly we will see direct to account (D2A) payment options such as the PSD2 payment APIs. Cards themselves will increasingly disappear to be replaced by tokenized equivalents which can be deployed with enhanced security to a wide range of form factors – watches, smartphones, IoT devices, etc. The availability of D2A and tokenized solutions will vastly expand the range of payment options available to consumers who will be able to choose the option most suitable for them in specific circumstances. Increasingly we expect to see the awkwardness and friction of the end of purchase payment disappear, as consumers select the payment methods that offer them the maximum convenience for the maximum reward. Real-time, cross-border settlement will power the ability to make many of our commerce transactions completely transparent. Many merchants are confused by the plethora of new payment services and are uncertain about which will bring them more customers and therefore which they should support. Traditionally they have turned to the processors for such advice, but mergers in this field are not necessarily leading to clear direction.

We know how to strategise, design and implement the new payment options to deliver value to all of the stakeholders and our track record in helping global clients to deliver population-scale solutions is a testament to our expertise and experience in this field.

5. In the transit sector, we can see how all of the issues come together. New pay-as-you-go systems based upon cards continue to rollout around the world. The leading edge of Automated Fare Collection (AFC) is however advancing. How a traveller chooses to identify himself, and how he chooses to pay are, in principle, different decisions and we expect to see more flexibility. Reducing congestion and improving air quality are of concern globally; best addressed by providing door-to-door journeys without reliance on private internal combustion engines. This will only prove popular when ultra-convenient. That means that payment for a whole journey (or collection or journeys) involving, say, bike/ride share, tram and train, must be frictionless and support the young, old and in-between alike.

Moving people on to public transport by making it simple and convenient to pay is how we will help people to take practical steps towards sustainability.

So, there we go. Privacy-enhanced resilient infrastructure will deliver hyper-personalisation and give customers more safe payment choices. AFC will use this infrastructure to both deliver value and help the environment to the great benefit of all of us. It’s an exciting year ahead in our field!



SRC enters the secure digital commerce arena

Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) officially launched in the US last week, supported by a limited set of merchants, with more to launch by year-end and into early 2020. We’ve been tracking SRC for some time now as it moved through the specification development process within EMVCo. It has emerged at launch as a customer-facing brand called “Click-to-Pay,” unless you’re using an Amex card, where it’s also called “Online Checkout” in confirmation emails received after registering a card.

4 Essential Trends in Money for your Business

By Sanjib Kalita, Editor-in-Chief, Money20/20

This article was originally published on Money20/20.

We are in the midst of seismic societal changes of how people interact and transact.  Across societies, geographies and segments, digital is the new norm. Change has accelerated, placing greater value upon flexibility and speed. Historically, money and finance have been among the more conservative and slower changing parts of society, but this has changed dramatically over the past decade by viewing money as an instigator of change rather than a lagging indicator.

Whether you are a marketer in shining armor conquering new territory, a financial wizard casting spells upon the balance sheet, or the queen or king guiding the whole enterprise, here are 4 trends about money that you should keep in mind for your business.

Platforms are the new kingdoms

Platforms are the base upon which other structures can be built.  For example, App stores from Apple and Google provide the infrastructure for consumers to complete commercial transactions and manage finances through their mobile phones.  While these companies develop their own digital wallets, they also enable similar services from banks, retailers and other companies.  Building and maintaining the platform enables services that they would not have created on their own, like Uber or Lyft, which in turn, have created their own platforms.

Marketers trying to address customers’ needs can plug into platforms to broaden offerings or deepen engagement with target markets. Platform-based thinking implies that product and service design is ongoing and doesn’t stop with a product launch.  Jack Dorsey didn’t stop when he built the Square credit card reader.  The team went into lending with Square Capital.  They got into consumer P2P payments with Square Cash.  Their ecosystem has grown through partnerships with other companies as well as in-house development.

Digital Identities open the gates

How do your customers interact with you?  Do they need to create a username and password, or can they use a 3rd party system like Google or Facebook?  Are security services like two-factor authentication or biometrics used to protect credentials?  Is your company protecting customer identities adequately?  The importance of all of these questions is increasing and often the difference between being forced into early retirement by a massive data breach or surviving to continue to grow your business.

While identity management and digital security might not be top of mind for most marketers, they are table stakes for even the most basic future business.  History is full of tales of rulers successfully fighting off armies laying sieges on castles and fortresses, only to fail when another army gets access to a key for the back door.

Context rules the experience

Credit card transactions moved from predominantly being in-store, to e-commerce sites accessed from desktop computers, and now to mobile phones.  As the point-of-purchase expanded, so did the consumer use cases and thought processes. In tandem, mobile screens presents less information than desktop computer screens, which in turn presents less information than associates in a brick-and-mortar environment.  Companies best able to understand context and deliver the right user experience within these constraints will build loyal customer relationships.

Apps or services created for a different use cases on the same platform, such as Facebook and Messenger apps, can help achieve this. Banks and have different apps for managing accounts or for completing transactions or payments. On a desktop, you can access these services through a single interface but on the mobile, forcing users to select their use case helps present a streamlined experience on the smaller, more time-constrained mobile screen.  The use of additional data such as location, device, etc. can further streamline the experience. Marketers that don’t think about the context will lose the battle before it even begins.

Data is gold

While a marketer’s goal is to generate sales, data has become a value driver.  In the financial world, data about payments, assets and liabilities has become critical in how products and services are delivered.  PayPal, a fintech that began even before the word ‘fintech’, has recently been using payments data from their platform to help build a lending business for their customers.  Similarly, an SME lender named Kabbage has grown to unicorn status by using data from other sources to make smarter lending and pricing decisions.  In the payments industry, Stripe distilled a previously complex technology integration into a minimal data set, accessed via API, to easily build payments into new digital products and services.

Those that are able to harness the power of data will be able to predict what customers want and more effectively address their needs.  In some cases, it might be using data from within your enterprise or from other platforms for targeting, pricing or servicing decisions. In other cases, it might be using data to reimagine what your product or service is.

Looking for more insights on key trends in money? Hear from 400+ industry leaders at Money20/20 USA. Money20/20 USA will be held on October 27-30, 2019 at The Venetian Las Vegas. To learn more and attend visit us.money2020.com.

This article was originally published on www.money2020.com.

Digital Wallet Ticketing

I’ve just been in Bristol at the annual Transport Card Forum (TCF) two-day event. I was on the agenda as chair of Working Group 27 giving the final report on progress. The report will be going to DfT shortly and thereafter available to TCF members via the website. I’ve been attending TCF for many years and it is impossible not to notice how very slowly things change in transport ticketing.

One piece of our recent advice to a sub-national transport body, when hired to outline their smart ticketing strategy can be summarised as: do not seek government funding to implement a region-wide (expensive) smart ticketing solution, but rather look at what already exists and how these ticketing schemes might be brought together to meet the needs of the various travelling customer types in the region. In this context, I was pleased to hear mention of software development kit (SDK) offerings from Masabi and FAIRTIQ giving me hope that the transport ticketing industry is moving in the right direction. For example, Masabi using their SDK to insert their ticketing technology into the Uber app for trials in Denver, Colorado.

A recurring theme at the event was operators reporting how PAYG solutions are proving popular with customers and how they are eroding the other forms of ticketing such as season tickets. This is an increasing area of concern for clients we are working with, most notably in terms of cash flow and forecasting but also technically. Some of our current work is helping clients deal with the array of ticketing solutions they are operating and how to rationalise these in the light of the way that the automated fare collection (AFC) industry is moving and responding to customer needs. Consumer demands will continue to drive change in their purchase patterns as flexible and remote working opportunities increase.  

It is not uncommon for a transport operator to support all of the following:

  • Paper tickets as the only medium interoperable at all acceptance points for all customer types.
  • Legacy smart card solutions based on 1990s technologies where the operators were focussed on owning the customer by issuing them with a smart card.
  • Barcodes as a cheaper alternative to smart cards that can also go paperless if delivered to mobile phones.
  • Mobile ticketing solutions based on bar code or flash pass, sometimes with low security levels and high fraud levels. Some using the ‘software only’ HCE innovations which Apple will not currently allow.
  • Open-loop (EMV bank card) PAYG solutions which have grown out of our work with TfL in 2008-14. These are intended to increase ridership and reduce costs by using the bank card in the customer’s pocket, but because they are one card per passenger, they do not cater for group tickets or for those not having (e.g. children) or not wishing to use bank cards. This could be addressed on buses by introducing a ‘retail model’, but this would require driver interaction to determine the price of the ticket before purchase and slow down bus boarding.

Operators are transport providers and their core business is providing transport services, not running ticketing solutions. The last thing they want is to be maintaining systems that have to be able to handle multiple different front ends, though many of them find themselves doing so. The classic example is TfL’s intention to switch off Oyster when open-loop was up and running, but they not yet managed to achieve this.

Our recent work with clients about how to use Digital Wallet Ticketing in a customer’s smart phone to unify their disparate ticketing solutions is proving popular.  This has been both in sports stadiums and transport ticketing. Digital Wallet Ticketing was not much discussed at TCF19, which I guess is a sign of how slowly things move within the transit ticketing community. We believe DWT is the future.

We have a wealth of experience over several years of designing and building DWT solutions. Let us know if you’d like a chat about how this might work for you, be it payment, identity or ticketing.

GDPR: Consequences, Fines and Responses

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has finally done what it’s been threatening to for a while and levied enormous fines on British Airways’ parent International Consolidated Airlines (£183 million) and Marriott Hotels (£99 million).  While subject to appeal, these are the first signs of how the ICO now has real teeth and is prepared to use them. The question is, what lessons can we learn from this?

Well, firstly, we can observe that card payments aren’t optimised for the internet.  The BA breach looks like it was at entry point – i.e. it wasn’t that the data was breached while stored in a database but that someone managed to get hacked software to intercept payments in flight and capture the details. The point here, of course, is that the paradigm of giving your card details to the merchant so they can pass them to your issuer originated in the 20th century when we didn’t have a choice. Now, given that we have this internet thing it makes more sense to contact our issuer directly and tell them to pay the merchant. Realistically, this may be the only way we can be sure merchants won’t lose our card details – don’t give them to them.

This points to push payments a la PSD2 APIs. But given that these won’t be pervasive for a while then the next best option is to tokenise cards to either limit their use to a single merchant or even a single transaction. Both of these are areas we’re seeing lots of interest in, and ought to be high on the agenda of heads of IT security and payments everywhere.

Secondly, we can note that static credentials are a sitting target. Seeing email addresses and passwords breached opens up companies to all sorts of horrible consequential damages under GDPR – let’s face it, most people reuse the same combinations across multiple sites so a breach on one site can lead to exposure on another. Any company relying on static credentials should basically assume they’re going to get some level of breach.  

Fixing this requires two factor authentication and we have a ready-made, state-of-the-art, solution here in the EU. PSD2 SCA is about as strong an approach as you could ask for and we have banks and authentication providers drowning in relevant technology. There simply is no excuse for a company using static credentials if they get breached.  We’ve been working closely with providers to look at how to take these solutions into the wider authentication market, because there’s been a certain inevitability about the way a lot of companies have dealt with their data breach protection.

Finally, note that the point that BA have made – that they haven’t seen any impact due to their breach – needs to be quantified: “yet”. Hackers tend to sit on breach data for 18 months before using it, waiting for the identity protection schemes that are often engaged post these events to expire. GDPR allows affected companies and individuals to sue – up until now the costs of a data breach have been borne by banks having to deal with fraud and issue new cards and consumers having to sort out identity protection. The ICO fines may yet be just the be tip of a very expensive iceberg as GDPR ensures that the costs more appropriately allocated to the offending parties.

Friday the 13th: PSD2 SCA Cometh

On Friday 13th September this year, the full force of PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) comes into force. Anecdotally the lack of readiness of the card payment industry is beginning to suggest that the immediate impact may well look like the aftermath of a dinner party hosted by Jason Voorhees.

To summarise: after 13th September 2019 (yes, that’s in just over 3 months) account holding banks must require two factor authentication compliant with PSD2 SCA on all electronic payments, including all remote card payments, unless an applicable exemption is triggered. There are no exceptions allowed to this, there is no concept of merchants choosing to take liability and avoiding SCA. In the event that a merchant attempts a transaction without SCA and the issuing bank determines that no exemption applies or that there is significant risk associated with the payment the bank must decline and request the merchant to perform a step-up authentication.

Currently, the only real option open to merchants for performing SCA for online card payments is 3DS. To support all of the PSD2 exemptions – which are needed to provide a near frictionless payment experience – the very latest version, 3DS2.2, must be used. As it stands, however, 3DS2.2 will not be ready, so the initial implementation of this will be sub-optimal.

So, come 14th September this year what will happen?

Figures are hard to come by, but within Europe we believe that 75% of merchants don’t implement 3DS today. We also believe that about a fifth of large issuers are taking a hard line in order to be compliant with the regulations and will decline all non-3DS transactions. Even where the issuer is taking a more subtle approach they will request step-up SCA on somewhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 transactions.  On top of this, if the merchant does not support 3DS and the issuer authorises anyway any fraud is the merchant’s responsibility: for non-complying merchants this is a lose-lose-lose proposition.

Given this woeful state of preparedness there’s some industry hope that the regulators may take a relaxed view of compliance come September. Certainly there are representations being made in Brussels, but we think it’s unlikely there’ll be any relief from that direction: (1) the migration date is written into law, national regulators cannot alter it and (2) many issuers will implement PSD2 fully regardless of any softening of the implementation. We suspect that there may be some movement from national regulators since the alternative may be unthinkable, but travelling hopefully doesn’t look like much of a strategy, especially if you’re an e-com retailer or PSP.

Going forward there are a wide range of solutions being developed which will mitigate the impact of SCA on cardholders. Ultimately 3DS is not the only solution, but it is the only pervasive one and it certainly is the only one available in the current time frames.

What can merchants do to avoid carnage in September? Well, as a matter of urgency they need to engage with their PSPs to ensure that they’re capable of supporting 3DS. Given that there’s likely to be a last minute rush the earlier this happens the better. Secondly, to meet 3DS requirements they need to be capturing a range of customer data to feed into the underlying risk management processes (which, of course, needs to be GDPR compliant). And finally, they need to be working on a proper PSD2 SCA strategy that ensures, going forward, that they can minimise the impact on their customers, provide the minimum friction in the payments process and maximise transaction completion.

Here at Chyp we’ve spent the last two years helping Issuers, Schemes, Acquirers, PSPs and merchants prepare – so although the impact across the payments industry may be patchy, we know there will be winners as well as losers. If the worst case comes to pass then the only merchants likely to escape the bloodbath come September are those taking action now. And there’s unlikely to be any downside to immediate action – PSD2 has been in the works for over five years, the SCA implementation date has been known for over a year, and there’s little indication that the European Commission intends to undo or loosen the regulations.

Friday 13th is coming, best make sure you’re prepared …

Crazy Cards

Crazy Cards

The reasons behind the presence of mag stripe on cards alongside chip (and PIN) has long been a debate at Consult Hyperion. Especially for the US where things were different for years – of course now the US has introduced chip and PIN as well.

But putting numbers and signatures on cards helps criminals. There’s no need for it.

A couple of years later, in “Tired: Banks that store money. Wired: Banks that store identity” we asked why banks didn’t put a token in Apple Pay that didn’t disclose the name or personal information of the holder, a “stealth card” that could be used to buy adult services online using the new Safari in-browser Apple Pay experience. This would be a simple win-win: good for the merchants as it would remove CNP fraud and good for the customers as it would prevent the next Ashley-Madison catastrophe. Keep my real identity safe in the vault, give the customer a blank card to go shopping with.

Brazil Nuts

Some years ago, we were testing Static Data Authentication (SDA) “chip and PIN” cards in the UK, we used to make our own EMV cards. To do this, we took valid card data and loaded it onto our own Java cards. These are what we in the business call “white plastic”, because they are a white plastic card with a chip on it but otherwise completely blank. Since our white plastic do-it-yourself EMV cards could not generate the correct cryptogram (because you can’t get the necessary key out of the chip on the real card, which is why you can’t make clones of EMV cards), we just set the cryptogram value to be “SDA ANTICS” or whatever (in hex). Now, if the card issuer is checking the cryptograms properly, they will spot the invalid cryptogram and reject the transaction. But if they are not checking the cryptograms, then the transaction will go through.

You might call these cards pseudo-clones. They acted like clones in that they worked correctly in the terminals, but they were not real clones. They didn’t have the right keys inside them. Naturally, if you made one of these pseudo-clones, you didn’t want to be bothered with PIN management so you made it into a “yes card” – instead of programming the chip to check that the correct PIN is entered, you programmed it to respond “yes” to whatever PIN is entered. We used these pseudo-clone cards in a number of shops in Guildford as part of our testing processes to make sure that issuers were checking the cryptograms properly. Not once did any of the Guildford shopkeepers bat an eyelid about us putting these strange blank white cards into their terminals. Of course it’s worth noting things have progressed and fortunately this wouldn’t work now as the schemes have moved on from SDA.

I heard a different story from a Brazilian contact. He discovered that a Brazilian bank was issuing SDA cards and he wanted to find out whether the bank was actually checking cryptograms properly (they weren’t). In order to determine this, he made a similar white plastic pseudo-clone card and went into a shop to try it out.

When he put the completely white card into the terminal, the Brazilian shopkeeper stopped him and asked him what he was doing and what this completely blank white card was, clearly suspecting some misbehaviour.

The guy, thinking quickly, told him that it was one of the new Apple credit cards!

“Cool” said the shopkeeper, “How can I get one?”.

Titanium Dreams

That Brazil story was written back in 2014! There was no white Apple credit card at that time but it was interesting that the shopkeeper expected an Apple credit card to be all white and with no personal data on display, just as we had suggested in our ancient ruminations on card security. Imagine the total lack of surprise when the internet tubes delivered the news of the new actual Apple credit card launched in California a couple of weeks ago. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the new Apple Card would be the biggest card innovation “in 50 years” [FT].  This seems a little rough on the magnetic stripe, online authorisation, chip and PIN, debit cards, contactless interfaces and so on, but it is certainly an interesting development for people like us at Consult Hyperion.

The story gathered the usual media interest. A number of reports on the web reporting on “Apple going into banking” which, obviously, they are not.  Far from it. The Apple Card issuer is Goldman Sachs (it’s their first credit card product) and the card product is wholly unremarkable. The card looks pretty cool though, no doubt about that. I still don’t know why they put the cardholder name on the front (instead of their Apple ID).

Apple Card is launching into an interesting environment. The US POS is a confusing place but Apple know their stuff and I am sure that they think they can use the 2% cash back on ApplePay purchases vs. the 1% on chip/stripe to push people toward the habit of using their phones at POS instead of cards. Judging by the sign I saw in an Austin gas station, they may be right.

The Apple Card adds security, there’s no doubt about that. The card-not-present PAN and CVV displayed by the app (which can be refreshed) are not the same as the PAN and CVV on the stripe, so you can’t make counterfeit stripe cards with data from the app and Apple uses the Mastercard token Account Update service, so if you give (say) Spotify the CNP PAN/CVV and then refresh it, you don’t need to tell Spotify that you’ve changed anything because Mastercard will sort it out with Spotify. That’s security for the infrastructure and convenience for the customer.

Now You See It

While I was jotting down some notes about Apple Card, I was thinking about David Kwong, the illusionist. He gave an entertaining talk at Know 2019 in Las Vegas and I was privileged to MC his session. I was sitting feet away from him and I couldn’t figure out how he did it. That’s because he is a master of misdirection!

I can’t help feeling that there’s a bit of misdirection going on with Apple Card. The press are reporting about the card product, but it’s really not that earth shattering. It seems to me that what is really important in the announcement isn’t extending Goldman Sachs’ consumer credit business or that bribe to persuade apparently reluctant consumers to use Apple Pay at contactless terminals instead of swiping their card, but the attempt to get people to use Apple Cash. Cognisant of how Starbucks makes out by persuading citizens to exchange their US dollars that are good anywhere into Starbucks Dollars that are not, and of Facebook’s likely launch of some kind of Facebook Money, Apple are hoping to kick-start an Apple Cash ecosystem.

You may have noticed that as of now,  you can no longer fund person-to-person Apple payments (in Messages) using a credit card. You can still fund your Apple Cash via a debit card. You can pay out from your Apple Cash to a Visa debit card for a 1% fee or via ACH to a bank account for free. They want to reduce the costs of getting volume into Apple Cash and make it possible for you to get it out with jumping through hoops. Given that you can do this, you’ll be more relaxed about holding an Apple Cash balance and that means that next time you go to buy a game or a song or whatever, Apple can knock it off of your Apple Cash balance rather than feeding transactions through the card rails. 

And why not? In this ecosystem Apple would carry the float, which might well run into millions of dollars (Starbucks’ float is over a billion dollars), and if it could persuade consumers to fund app, music and movie purchases from Apple Cash instead of cards it would not only save money, but anchor an ecosystem that could become valuable to third-party providers as well. With Facebook’s electronic money play on the horizon, I think Apple are making a play not for a new kind of card to compete with my Amex Platinum and my John Lewis MasterCard but for a new kind of money to compete with BezosBucks, ZuckDollas an Google Groats.

Loosely-coupled MaaS payments

I was a panellist discussing the barriers to mobility as a service (MaaS) at the Transport Ticketing Global (TTG19) conference in London in January. In fact, many of the presentations over the two-day conference were about MaaS and reasons why it is proving very hard to deliver. Perhaps one of the most mature MaaS offerings is the one from MaaS Global branded as ‘Whim’ which launched in the UK in the West Midlands but, by their own admission, has struggled to gain a foothold.

Until recently, MaaS providers have avoided London. We have seen some excellent journey planning apps exploiting Transport for London’s (TfL)  open APIs, but nobody was going that extra mile and actually proving a complete MaaS solution in a single app that allow both planning journeys together with payment and ticketing (i.e. proving authority to travel when entering the transit network). TfL has been very clear that they will not provide any cut of the fares to MaaS providers, so they will have to find other ways to make a profit.

So, the announcement from CityMapper that they are about to launch a MaaS solution in London surely doesn’t make any sense? Given the above barriers to MaaS and the high complexity of London’s public transport network, why on earth would you start there?

The answer is payments and identity, two of our favourite topics. These are services needed in order to offer account-based ticketing (ABT) and ABT is a corner-stone of MaaS. Passengers need to identify themselves to their customer account so that their journey charges can be calculated. Payment for the journeys needs to be handled in a way that is suitable to the particular customer.

One of the barriers I suggested on the TTG19 panel is that payment and identity are too ‘closely coupled’ in modern account-based ticketing offerings. I am old enough to remember the emergence of service oriented architectures in the ‘noughties’. The idea was that by ensuring services are ‘loosely coupled’, they can freely evolve without affecting consumers or implementations. I argued that if everyone rushes to implement the open-loop payment models with the payment networks like TfL has done, then we will be left with fare collection services that are highly dependent on the payment schemes and constrained from evolution. The identifier the passenger uses at the gate is their bank card (or its emulation on mobile or wearable devices). This identifies them to their ABT travel account but it also identifies their means of payment. Some would say this is convenient, I am suggesting it is too closely coupled and will stifle innovation.

Open banking APIs are a subject close to our hearts at the moment. The APIs are very new and they seem not to be thinking about transit payments at this stage. However, one could imagine that there could be future open banking APIs that would allow passengers to consent to transit payments from their bank to their MaaS provider without the need for the payment networks in between. I expect this will be subject of future blogs or white papers from Chyp.

The reason CityMapper is launching in London is that all the public transport modes accept open-loop payments and the CityMapper solution to payments and identity is to provide their MaaS customers with a Mastercard-branded prepaid card, ‘Pass’. CityMapper will offer a subscription model at a discount on TfL prices and any travel on TfL modes outside of this will simply use the prepaid bank card like any other.

This works for all London public transport modes, but there are very few other cities that have committed so totally to the open-loop models. It will be interesting to see whether CityMapper can make a profit and if they do, whether they can replicate it outside of London. Right now, it looks like they are using investment funding and planning on taking a loss to start with since they are offering to undercut the TfL fares and as stated above TfL has said they will not offer discounts to Maas providers. Or perhaps city mapper is planning on selling advertising space or plans to sell anonymised travel data to make up the shortfall? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, may all your transit tokens be loosely coupled and your payment instruments plentiful.

 

Mobile Payments and Acceptance: The Future Is Soft

The last year has seen a lot of activity in the mobile payment ecosystem with regards to the risk associated with Consumer Off The Shelf (COTS) devices becoming not only a payment method (Google Pay, Samsung Pay etc) but more significantly becoming payment terminals ready to accept payments. A ‘COTS device’ is a mobile device (e.g. phones & wearables) intended for distribution and use by the mass-market, and traditionally were not designed exclusively for making or accepting payments. 


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