Transport Ticketing Global – another fantastic year!

The Transport Ticketing Global conference in London two weeks ago was a real treat. A big shout-out to the staff at Clarion Events who organized it. All of the speakers were first rate and provided the attendees an opportunity to learn  lessons from experts, all over the world. One example was Sindi Msibi of ICT-Works in Johannesburg, South Africa. She spoke about the challenges they face with load-sharing the servers that run their system as they have rolling blackouts. Some areas will have no electricity for six hours per day. Their system performance is extremely important as their riders spend 40% of their income on transport versus 14% for the EU.

Many of the sessions at TTG focused on Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) systems, including a panel that I led on Successful ABT Implementations. The main lessons that I learned from this session were:

Implementing an ABT system is a journey. Many agencies procure a new ABT fare collection system and think – “Oh boy! I just need to turn this thing on and all of my problems are solved!” That’s not the case. Your riders have many different needs. The good news is that ABT systems can provide you the means to fulfill those needs, but it takes time. My panelists spoke honestly about where they are on that journey, and many were years in and still not done.

Not all ABT systems are equal. There were many vendors with booths that touted that they offered ABT systems. However, a fare collection system can be complicated and has many touchpoints both inside the agency and outside to your riders. It’s important to be sure you procure a system that is mature enough to meet your needs. This is why getting references from similar-sized agencies is important, and a good consultant can provide guidance about the difference between what PowerPoint slides say and the reality of what vendors have done.

To have a successful system, you have to analyze and update your business processes. My first job in transit was as a web developer at DART (Dallas, TX) working on our corporate intranet. Our boss insisted that we not just “web-ulize” their current paper processes but improve them. To get the most out of your new fare collection system, analyze your internal processes and ensure that you take advantage of the capabilities that your new ABT system offers your agency by considering the needs of your Revenue, Finance, Planning, Customer Service and Marketing departments.

And speaking of change, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the best sessions of the conference titled Ticketing & Fares – Time to Retire. James Bain of Worldline made a great case for retiring the ticket and moving towards a subscription model that many other industries like Netflix and Spotify have successfully implemented. It really made me think hard about some of the basic assumptions I hold.

The final point I wanted to bring up is that I heard many people talk about Open Payment projects. Despite highly successful implementations in London and New York, there are still many misconceptions about this technology. One statement that I heard a few times at TTG was how Open Payments is only for tourists. As a New Yorker who regularly rides MTA and uses my American Express card in my Google Wallet (Thanks Jonathan Hill!) to pay my fare, I think it’s the best way to pay. After all, it’s how I pay for everything else I do in my daily life. I think many people are selling short the convenience that Open Payment brings for ALL riders. I hope they’ll rethink some of their assumptions.

For over 15 years Consult Hyperion has been advising transit agencies/authorities the world over. We have a deep understanding of the challenges in a successful implementation of ABT and Open Payment systems. Want to know more? Reach out to Simon Laker or myself to learn more at

The Tale of Money2020 Vegas, Part 2

It’s Vegas, so time for a glass of champagne. Luckily, they had some in the green room for the W3C panel on “One-Click Buying: New W3C Standards for Web Payments” so I poured myself a large one and went on stage to toast the guys while they discussed the working draft of the W3C Payments Request API (July 2016). They deserved it, because in-app and in-browser payments are going to be huge. Bringing chip and PIN security into the web and mobile world is huge. I went to a demo hosted by Amex to see it actually working, which it did. The new API is implemented in Chrome and on the Samsung mobile browser and I saw it with my own eyes work on both. The latter use case – mobile browser triggering mobile wallet with biometric authentication – was slick. Once I can use Apple Pay on my iPhone to buy from mobile web sites and apps, I can’t see that I’ll ever pay any other way.

CHYP on Tour Vegas 16

The impact of this is, if the people I spoke to were anything to go by, considerably underestimated. The ability to make secure and convenient remote payments is transformational and it will inevitably mean a significant growth in online business. But more than that, it will drive more transactions in-browser and in-app and this will mean that there will be more competition, because it is easier to introduce new payment mechanisms this way. Here I am explaining this to one of the international delegates. I told her that the marginal cost of introducing a new payment scheme (such as a direct-from-account “push payment” into an app) would be vastly less than the cost of introducing it a traditional point of sale and she told me to stop following her. 


The next day I was sent off to the Money2020 exhibition floor like a flesh and bone drone remotely piloted from Guildford. I was getting instructions like “go to stand XXX and see if the PIN on glass solution is in the TEE (it was) and certified (it wasn’t)” and then “go to stand YYY and see if the demo is real or simulated” and so on. So I did, and then I ran into noted venture capitalist Matt Harris. I decided to tell him my theory about regtech being a more important use of new technology than fintech for many of our customers because of the disproportionate and uncontrolled costs of compliance. I think I may have convinced him. Then I explained to him why it sometime makes sense for Manchester City to play a “false 9” against teams who lack pace at the back, because midfield runners can always move around the centre backs who are caught between tracking and sitting back.

CHYP on Tour Vegas 16

I went off to a couple of conference sessions but since my first meetings of the day were at 7am on all of the first three days, I found it a little hard to concentrate. When I went to the Cafe Presse to get a little pick me up (quadruple shot latte with an extra shot) I kid you not there were two guys in there who were fast asleep. Lightweights.

The Tale of the Princess and the POS.

Once upon a time there was a Princess. She went to see the King and told him that she was bored and that she wanted to be an entrepreneur so she wanted the money to set up a shop. She decided to set up a potpourri shop and it was very successful.

She ordered a lovely POS terminal and put it on the counter.

Several customers came in every time to buy potpourri, including a Prince, who was very attractive to her because of his tubby Dad body. The Prince paid with his John Lewis MasterCard but things didn’t go as smoothly as the Princess had hoped because it took far too long for the transaction to complete.

When she went to bed at the night, she couldn’t sleep. The POS was bothering her.

“It’s big and ugly Daddy and it takes up space that should be occupied by lovely potpourri”.

So the King got her a small POS and attached it to her mobile phone.

But when she went to bed that night, she still couldn’t sleep. The POS was still bothering her.

“Daddy all my friends have Venmo and Zelle, so why do we make them use stupid old cards like the peasants have?”

So Daddy took away the POS and next time the Prince came in for some potpourri, he Venmo’d the money to the Princess. And his number.

“That’s better Daddy” she told the King. “Now that there’s no POS I can sleep properly again. And my potpourri sales have gone up because of the loyalty scheme in my app”.

The Prince and the Princess changed their status to “hooked up” and they lived happily ever after.

Night night.

<- Part 1  Part 3 ->

The Tale of Money 2020 Vegas, Part 1

CHYP on Tour Vegas 16

Money2020 was pretty different this year. I’m glad I went, it remains one the most important events in our calendar and it’s a fantastic opportunity for Consult Hyperion folk to meet up with all of our key customers and soon-to-be customers. And I’ll go again next year. But… it’s not like in the old days. Money2020 has matured into a mainstream business event. It’s no longer a place where people go to see fascinating presentations on what a blockchain is or how P2P lending works. It’s not longer a place where people go to watch passionate debate on panels full of conflicting views of the future. It’s a place where people go to do serious business. Here I am, for example, engaging in an in-depth discussion about the business opportunities for Payment Service Providers (PSP) because of the European Commission’s Second Payment Services Directive (PSD) open API provisions on the retail payments ecosystem in the UK, in the light of the UK Treasury’s parallel initiative, the Open Banking Working Group (OPWG).

CHYP on Tour 16

I told our commercial chap Nick that I’d been into the conference and was a bit bored. He told me that we’ve done five times as much business at the event this year as we did last year. I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that next door to Money2020 was the National Fasteners Conference. I’m afraid to say it, but this is the vision of a successful future: a trade show where everyone goes to do real business year after year. I spoke to a few other people about this. There was a feeling like we all know that SXSW will be more fun, but Money2020 will make us more money.  And to be fair, Money2020 was bigger, better organised and easier to navigate than ever before. They’ve built a very successful show.

Vegas 2016

The main reason that I was at the event (apart from to make money for the company, of course) was because I had been invited to moderate one of the financial inclusion panels and I chose to focus on what the US could learn from emerging markets when it comes to the topic. They asked me who I would like to have on my panel and my first pick was Professor Lisa Servon from Penn. Lisa wrote one of the best papers on financial inclusion that I have ever read and I thought that the best way to explore the many aspects of the issues pertaining to the small percentage of American’s who are unbanked (perhaps around 7%) and the much larger proportion who are underbanked (perhaps 20%) would be to go to a Cirque de Soleil show, so I chose their Beatles show. It was great, by the way.

Vegas 2016

I was delighted to welcome Lisa on board along with Jed McCaleb from Stellar, Michael Schlein from Accion, Daniel Monehin from MasterCard and Arjuna Costa from Omidiyar Network. Michael wrote a very good blog post on the key takeaways from this panel so there is no need to repeat them here. What I will say is that the panelists received a well-deserved compliment later in the week when I was told that is was one of the stand out panels of the event, and I wasn’t surprised. I refused to have a set script so I asked them interesting questions and they responded with interesting answer, discussion and debate. A great start to the event.


I started to become somewhat deranged on the second day, partly because of lack of sleep, partly because of the over-stimulation at Bruce Parker’s top secret Payments Illuminati dinner (which had, I have to say, one of the best ice-breaker strategies I’ve ever come across at such events) and partly because of the amount of nonsense being talked about the blockchain was getting out of control. As you can see, my mental state was beginning to deteriorate. Someone tells me that the blockchain is going to revolutionise something or other. So I say “wow that’s great – how?” and they begin to describe some fantastical elaboration of some sort of distributed database with wholly mythic qualities and tell me “there, see”. I think perhaps some of his has to do with Money2020 Europe locating in Copenhagen, home of Hans Christian Anderson and his fairy tales. The spirit is permeating the event. I swear I saw a presentation that might as well have been about magic beans for all of the actual content it had or education it delivered. I was losing it, no about.

Vegas 2016

In fact, the more I start to think about it, the more the whole thing seems like it was one big fairy tale. Most of the stories I heard weren’t true, they were marketing, and that’s a sort of fairy tale.

The Tale of the Ugly Blockchain.

There once was a little blockchain. He didn’t use proof of work to form consensus, so all of the other blockchains made fun of him. You’re a quack, they told him. Quack, quack. And the little blockchain was very unhappy. But one morning the ugly blockchain was out playing by himself, because none of the other blockchains would play with him. In fact, they were chasing him with a hard fork. But then, as passing consultant saw what was going on and came over to help him. “Hey,” said the consultant, “what is a beautiful shared ledger like you doing out here with these ruffians?”. He wasn’t a blockchain after all, he was a double-permissioned shared ledger with a practical Byzantine fault-tolerant multi-round consensus algorithm! And he lived happily ever after.

Night night.

Part 2>

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