Today’s ticketing trends

ITS_ticketing systems

The current pandemic has hit almost every facet of everyday life today; public transport systems are no exception, especially electronic fare collection (ticketing) systems, after onboard cash transactions were pared down to the bone to reduce virus transmission vectors.

GMV has been supplying ticketing systems for over 20 years now, and has been able to successfully adapt its systems to the specific needs thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic (restricted occupancy, contactless access, cashless payments, etc.).

Every public transport passenger needs a travel entitlement of some sort to make a journey. This has evolved over the years from paper tickets to today’s contactless smart cards or cell-phone apps capable of securely hosting many different types of travel entitlements.

The current ticketing trends can be broken down into 4 main categories:

  1. Online recharging of contactless smartcards: from a website or cell phone, would-be passengers can renew or extend the validity of the travel entitlements hosted on their smartcards without needing to visit the service operator’s customer attention point. The electronic fare collection systems installed onboard buses (driver consoles and validators) will then be able to acknowledge and apply the passenger’s chosen recharge operations.
  2. Host card emulation: this approach involves emulating a handheld-hosted (tablet, smartphone) contactless smartcard, taking its cue from the contactless technology of the handheld itself. This option is at present making few inroads due to the glut of implementation restraints, such as handheld hardware compatibility, contactless antenna type or SAM sockets, operating systems and access to the handheld’s secure component, among others.
  3. Account-based ticketing (ABT): in systems of this type the vehicle’s fare-collection systems identify the passenger by means of a unique identifier or token. These tokens range from a simple handheld-generated QR code, an identifier hosted in a contactless EMV bankcard to a unique identifier (UID) of traditional contactless smartcards. Unlike with traditional ticketing systems, in ABTs the whole logic of the transport operator’s fare policy is applied in central servers (the cloud), the onboard systems merely passing on to the cloud the journeys made by this token in the transport system. This system overrides the intrinsic constraints of traditional farecards (limitation of space, technology, etc), giving the transport operator great flexibility in defining its fare policy.
  4. Other trends: Especially in countries of central Europe working with bluetooth beacons and mobile localization.

GMV’s ticketing systems based on the abovementioned trends include EMV-enabled payment and QR validation in cities like Pamplona, Almería and Palma de Mallorca (with a similar system to be taken up in the Balearic Isles) and ABT systems in Malta’s public transport.

Although we can now see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the COVID-19-induced trend swings in onboard payments are here to stay, just as the switch to teleworking will never go away completely either. That said, there are bound to be further tweaks in the future as the trends are brought into line with ongoing user preferences.

According to a report by Payment Innovation Hub on trends and innovations in means of payment, EMV contactless payment systems, after overcoming consumers’ initial security qualms, have been fully taken up on the market. Witness the fact that seven out of every ten POS payments are now contactless. Ticketing systems have now plumped for this technology in a big way, alongside ABT systems in the transport sector.

Authors: Juan Corzo and Óscar Casado.

Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV
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