Taking our cue from the industry
With this in mind, UITP has launched a brand new forum dedicated to advancing open loop payments in public transport, alongside a collection of the industry’s biggest names. The launch follows a clear call from the public transport sector, which made it known that a clearer framework for engaging in a more open dialogue at an international level on open loop payments in public transport was needed.
The Urban Mobility Open Payments Forum will help to pave the way for a world in which paying for public transport in your home city is as familiar and compelling as it is when visiting a city abroad”
In collaboration with Visa as the forum’s lead partner, and alongside other payments industry leaders – including American Express, Scheidt & Bachmann, Thales and Flowbird – the Urban Mobility Open Payments Forum will help to pave the way for a world in which paying for public transport in your home city is as familiar and compelling as it is when visiting a city abroad.
We have seen that customer preferences have changed during the pandemic: concerns about handling cash and tickets, as well as touching common surfaces, have brought increased interest for contactless services, including payment. By focusing on enabling simple, convenient and secure open loop payments systems, we can help cities to create efficient, inclusive and sustainable door-to-door travel experiences.
Our new forum arrives at the right time
We know that new technology helps to move public transport forward and, by collaborating with other sector stakeholders, we can help to define that path together with as much ease for passengers as possible.
The world of open loop payments is growing, and what is on offer is the chance for one eligible payment method to be used without having to be part of the system itself. A passenger can use their existing contactless card or mobile device to pay for a trip, even if they are not affiliated with the transport network.
Convenience is key
If passengers can use public transport without additional hurdles, we can make their lives easier. They do not have to install an app first or buy an agency-specific smartcard for every city that they live in or visit. They can instead use a payment card or contactless device, such as a smartphone. People are growing more familiar with these tools, easing concerns about unused credit balances and correct handling of the payment.
In collaboration with the forum’s partners, UITP is providing a platform to all relevant stakeholders – including payment systems, industry partners, public transport operators and authorities – to better serve these new developments. We need to collaborate in new ways to advance our sector, and there is a lot of innovation out there. The forum gives us the space needed to exchange ideas, benefit from the expertise of other industries and open a dialogue on solutions and processes.
Educating the wider market
But we’re not just spending our time on exchanging ideas: we will be launching a series of initiatives to inform and educate the wider market and improve understanding and know-how of the stakeholders of the public transport sector – in particular, operators and authorities.
As a first step, we will organise a training course for public transport stakeholders aiming to demystify open loop payment. During the course, operators and authorities will learn what steps need to be taken to facilitate open payment; discover what opportunities integration creates for user experience; and receive support in outlining their own strategy for implementation.
Furthermore, we will investigate the impact that open payment may have on customer relationships, highlighting how the focus on customer accounts, instead of tickets only, will create new options to provide better and more individualised services.
Also, in order to support public transport stakeholders that are keen to implement open loop payments, the forum will provide guidance for future tendering procedures. By doing this, we want to enable the development of a clear payment concept and a clear description of needs and expectations.
We want to keep broadening the discussion. Therefore, I’d like to conclude by saying that the Urban Mobility Open Payments Forum is always looking for members to join, exchange and contribute to advancing our sector.
Andrea Soehnchen is a Consultant for the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and her own company, TRANFORTIS. With a background in engineering, she is a business developer and innovation strategist working in an international context on multi-national projects, with international organisations and corporations. She is UITP’s Project Manager of the Urban Mobility Open Payments Forum, facilitating the project’s development and partnership growth.