Imagine never having to queue for a travel ticket ever again

For Intelligent Transport, David Braddock, Director of Nevis Technologies discusses the next step in the evolution of smart travel ticketing…

The uptake of smart ticketing across a variety of modes of transport is changing our habits as we move ever closer to a cashless, digital economy. Smart card-based ticketing provides a convenient way to travel with the ability to simply tap and go, making boarding times faster in an easy-to-use form. And now, as smartphones have become a key component of our everyday lives, the smart money is on those who look beyond smart card-based ticketing to the game-changing technology of secure mobile ticketing through the use of Host Card Emulation (HCE).

Taking transport smart cards from physical to virtual

HCE is the next revolution in not only transportation, but across the entire customer experience both online and in the physical space. HCE enables transport operators to securely transition ticketing from physical to virtual smart cards, while maintaining compatibility with their existing smart infrastructure. This reduces the requirement for physical card issuance and empowers the consumer by enabling them to self-serve using their smartphone. Smart cards and paper tickets still require consumers to queue at ticket desks and vending machines. By making travel smarter through HCE ticketing, consumers can browse, purchase and download their tickets immediately for use whenever or wherever it suits them – all they need is a smartphone.  

So how far away is HCE ticketing technology?

HCE ticketing is here today. Nevis Technologies, a joint venture between Rambus, and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, provides smart ticketing technology to a number of operators, but recently announced that a pilot of HCE ticketing will take place on the Glasgow subway this summer, offering selected passengers the opportunity to travel by using their phones. What makes this technology so appealing for operators is that it can be used on existing smart ticketing infrastructure which supports the UK’s ITSO interoperable specification. 

The benefits to both operators and consumers are many. Operators improve cost efficiencies by reducing the number of physical smart cards or paper tickets to issue and manage, in addition to reducing the reliance on and upkeep of ticket desks and vending machines. It also allows operators to move staff onto station concourses to help travellers directly, enhancing the customer experience of travelers.

Consumers benefit through a frictionless experience that eliminates the queue and fumbling for cash to collect tickets. Another benefit to both is security, as the encryption underpinning the technology is built to similar security that has been used for years in the payments space. Perhaps the most exciting benefit, and one that is still in its early days in terms of potential, is the possibility that comes from data and geo-location. This takes HCE beyond just being a radical improvement to ticketing, but the entire transport ecosystem infrastructure of the future.

Adding smart, value-added services for passengers

Through the integration of smart technologies, such as beacons and geo-location, operators and retailers alike can improve the customer’s journey even further by offering targeted, value-added services and promotions based on a traveler’s habits and location. Through being able to align a customer’s journey from when they leave the house to when they get to their destination with beacon and geo-location technology, retailers like local cafés could offer live promotions on things like coffee.

These aren’t just advantages for the consumer; through the ability to see and analyse in real-time, customer behavior, the operator gains a competitive advantage and can open up additional revenue streams through these third party services. The operator could help manage station traffic during periods of busy congestion by sending live updates to the customer’s phone, or incentivize riders to use alternative routes through promotional offers in conjunction with a local shop.

With the technology available today, operators can take advantage of the many benefits of secure HCE ticketing and offer even greater convenience to their customers and usher in the new wave of frictionless travel.

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One response to “Imagine never having to queue for a travel ticket ever again”

  1. Steve Ward says:

    Until HCE becomes available on iPhone – currently the largest market of new smartphones in the UK – a fully integrated solution will be some way off.

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