When we look forward to 2021, it is no surprise that COVID-19 is the dominant factor. So far as the merchant payments world is concerned, the shape of the post-pandemic new normal transaction environment must be the key strategic consideration for stakeholders and I am desperately keen to hear the variety of informed opinion on this topic that I have come to expect at Merchant Payments Ecosystem every year. At Consult Hyperion we like to contribute to these conversations by providing a useful framework for discussion: our annual “Live 5”, our yearly set of suggestions for strategic focus. This year, we choose to look at the key issue of pandemic transformation and its impact of on the three key domains where our clients operate: Payment, Identity and Transit, together with (as is traditional!) a suggestion as to a technology that the POS world may not be thinking about but probably should be.
This is the second of three blogs about technologies to support contact-free use of public transport.
Public transport operators have been making great efforts to make public transport safe during the pandemic. TfL recently launched a new app that makes it easier for passengers to plan their travel and avoid routes where they might come close to large numbers of people. There are claims that the rate of uptake of contactless by passengers has increased significantly since the pandemic and the demand for contact-free transactions on public transport. Visa recently offered a graph relating to global public transport contactless transactions. However, it is not clear what the actual contactless usage is since they are hidden behind month-on-month percentage increases which look enormous when the previous months had fallen off the proverbial cliff.
This is the first of three blogs about technologies to support contact-free use of public transport.
I heard on the radio that, despite ministers encouraging people in England back to work in their offices, most are staying at home. Commuter trains are about one-third full and buses are about 40% full. During the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for public transport fell off a cliff as governments told their people to stay at home. A major part of encouraging travellers to use public transport is the provision of systems that allow social distancing of passengers from staff, ideally eliminating the need to exchange physical tickets, cash and paper receipts.
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.
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:
- Government of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Dallas Areas Rapid Transit, USA
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I recently presented at the Transport Card Forum 2017 in Birmingham. The subject I was asked to speak about was “How will we pay for transit in the future”. Knowing how slowly things move in the transport industry, the easy answer would have been, exactly as we pay now.
However, I thought it would be more helpful to assume that the answer is not cash, and to survey the categories of payments available and emerging today and put them into the context of paying for transit.
The direction of travel of the transit ticketing industry is to use Account Based Ticketing (ABT) and so I further assumed that ABT lies at the heart of any solution. Next, the travelling customer has a choice of media used to identify them to their payment mechanism. This is ring 1.
These customer media can be categorised as either open- or closed-loop. Open loop means that they can be used to make payments generally, whereas closed loop means they can only be used within the transit ticketing scheme.
Next comes the ‘authority to travel’ and ‘time of payment’ rings. Either the customer pays for authority in advance (e.g. season ticket) or they pay for it at the time of travel (e.g. pay on a bus or train) or they pay later. ‘Authority to travel’ might take the form of a ticket, but increasingly there will be no tickets issued. These are rings 2 and 3.
Finally, the outer rings (4 and 5) were added to show what kind of account might be used and how these relate to existing models such as those from the UKCA for the use of contactless bank cards in transit.
The UKCA models on the left-hand side have been discussed in previous blogs. Models 1 and 2 are what are being used in the UK building on what was achieved in London on TfL between 2008 and 2014. UK buses are now implementing Model 1 (and some are implementing parts of Model 2). Transport for the North (TfN) is implementing Model 2 for the whole of the North of England. Model 3 seems to have been abandoned as too hard to run in parallel with the other models. Perhaps other technologies will continue to dominate, such as bar code and ITSO smartcard ticketing for Pre-purchased authority to travel on national rail. Perhaps there is no need for a third way?
But what about those unable to use, or who do not wish to use, their own contactless bank cards? The right-hand side shows the equivalent models needed for them. As the figure below shows, there are two options for them, Either:
- They fund a pre-paid transit account (a bit like loading value to an Oyster card, but value is loaded to the account instead for ABT. Or …
- They allow payment to be taken directly from their payment account outside of the transit scheme. Payment is claimed from an open-loop account such as a payment card, bank account, online wallet (PayPal, Google Wallet, etc.).
The challenge for the latter option is that the transit scheme will struggle to manage the risk since the cannot tell whether the payment account has funds in it to pay for travel. Therefore, the preference at this stage is likely to be for for pre-paid transit accounts. And, therefore, this is what is likely to be chosen by TfN and other places as their solution for those not using bank cards with ABT schemes.
Thanks are due to my colleague, Alex Lithgow Smith, for developing my original idea of the rings showing aspects of payment in transit.
Well. How about that. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Blimey. And so on and so forth. Check this out…
Yes. It’s true. The Southwest Train ticket machines have finally gone contactless, and only a decade after I first used an NFC phone to pay for something I was able to use an NFC phone to buy a ticket in the machine at Woking station.
Now, let’s be clear. Woking is no stranger to contactless. Within the town boundaries, a wallet is an unnecessary accoutrement. I suppose some people might want to use cash, cheques or cards for cultural reasons, much as hipsters insist on using vinyl records, but they no longer need to. Indeed, only yesterday when my good lady wife asked me to pop to the shop to pick up a few baking essentials, I jumped on my bike and set off, never giving a thought to wallets or wads. I had my phone set to Planet Money and that was all I needed.
On the few and far-between days when I am working at our office in Guildford I don’t need a wallet. When I’m working at home I don’t need a wallet. But when I am working in London I do. Or at least, I did. The two hurdles to handset happiness were Arriva buses and Southwest Trains. But a couple of years ago, Arriva launched their mobile app so I don’t need cash for the buses any more. The only remaining barrier was Southwest Trains. But it’s all different now. I bought my train ticket with Apple Pay for the first time today. In Woking station, if nowhere else, it was #cardmageddon.
What? Don’t Southwest Trains have a smartcard you say? Well yes, they do. But you can’t use it to buy tickets online. You have to go to the station and tap it on the ticket machine and then put in your payment card and then tap it again so it’s hardly worth bothering, especially since I need to press the receipt button and wait for a paper receipt anyway.
May 2017 will be as famous as a September 1958 (the Fresno Drop) in the history of the inexorable march to cashlessness. For this is when I went down to Woking station, after a couple of weeks’ globe trotting, to discover that everything had changed. I am living in a new world. The ticket machines at Woking station now have contactless! I can now leave my wallet at home for good!
The Tomorrow’s Transactions Forum, that is. I arrived in good time (it’s always best to add on a few minutes to give yourself time to buy a ticket) for the 7.39 Flying Glacier to Waterloo via Misery and Degradation.
Of course, Woking station has changed a lot since this picture was taken. There’s a Flying Coffee Bean on Platform 2 now.
Hurrah! When I got into the ticket hall I discovered that they have installed machines to allow you to pick up a ticket that you have purchased online. Great. I have the excellent The Trainline app on my iPhone and it is integrated beautifully with Apple Pay. So you look up the tickets you want, hit “Pay with Apple Pay”, thumb it and away you go. When you get to the station you just thumb it again and tap your iPhone on the machine, it shows you the list of tickets you have purchased, you choose the ones you want and hey presto your tickets pop out.
Except it isn’t. The machines don’t work this way. You have to take a payment card with you and insert it into a slot and then type in a confirmation number that you were sent by e-mail. It’s actually quicker just to go to one of the other machines and buy your ticket in the usual way.
The new machine on the block.
I don’t get it. Surely the Apple Pay token used to buy the ticket can be matched to the Apple Pay token presented at the machine? You should only need to put the card in if you’re forgotten your phone or it is out of battery (and even then they should do it by implementing PARs properly).
Surely South West Trains, when they were planning these machines a few years ago, had at least heard about mobile phones even if they hadn’t actually seen any. And surely they had noticed that something was going with contactless technology? Perhaps one of the South West Train’s Executive Board had overhead their servants talking about “tapping” cards to ride the bus in London and never asked what they meant? Or did they just take it be a some new lingo below stairs, a slang term for writing out a cheque?
They must just have thought that contactless was something happening to other people.
This left me wondering if other train-like options are adopting contactless. I thought I’d give it a try at Heathrow, so I downloaded the Heathrow Express and tried a couple of times to buy a ticket to see if I could use Apple Pay, but the app asked me to scan in my credit card (presumably for some hello-1996 card-not-present transaction) then crashed, so I never to got to see it in action.
So much for joined-up thinking. The whole world is moving to contactless and mobile and the most up-to-date technology on the newest machines installed (I see they got rid of the machine for connecting by video link to customer service) is the decade-old chip and PIN reader. Come on.
OK, so sometimes there’s a bit of queue.
Why can’t we buy our tickets on our phones while riding the bus on the way and then just tap and collect when we get to the station?
The only improvement in the ticket purchasing experience at Woking station since it opened on 21st May 1838 — you still stand in line, they still take cash, they still give paper tickets — is that you no longer have to fill out a “reason to travel” form, and I wouldn’t put it past Theresa May to have these re-introduced in time for the next election.
A big story to finish the week. You can now travel around London on the buses, tubes, trams and docklands light railway without having to queue for tickets or reload your Oyster. You can now use your contactless payment cards, stickers, wristbands and goodness knows what else instead.
[Dave Birch] The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has been talking about the next major revolution to come in London transit ticketing.
Public transport travellers will be able to swipe credit or debit cards in the same way as Oyster cards by 2012, Boris Johnson revealed. The Mayor said the phased scheme will start on buses in the run-up to the Olympics and then move on to the Tube. Prices will be the same as with Oyster. Mr Johnson has also pledged that a “next generation” Oyster card will be released by 2014.
What this all means is that visitors to London — and, indeed, Londoners — will no longer need to get prepaid Oyster cards. They will be able to use their bank cards (such as, for example, the one of the ten million cards that Barclays has already issued with contactless interfaces) to tap-and-go their way around town.