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Unified ticketing: trends and technologies for the future of interoperable ticketing  (blog #5)

February 14, 2024
By Arnaud Depaigne, Smart mobility Product Manager, and Taoufik Sakhi, Technical Advisory VP Deputy at Fime.
Unified ticketing: trends and technologies for the future of interoperable ticketing  (blog #5)

Interoperability paves the way for innovation. A unified ticketing network with pooled resources can enable investment in technologies that would typically be beyond the means of a single operator. This investment can create operational efficiencies, drive new streams of revenue, and help safeguard key payments and passenger movement data. This helps create a seamless, accessible and inclusive ticketing network that meets the needs of all passengers.

The fifth and final installment in our series on unified ticketing explores the trends that have the potential to redefine and enhance the ticketing experience for both operators and the passengers they serve.

Putting the user experience first.

It is important to remember that the user experience is not solely defined by the technology available. Inclusivity, accessibility and affordability must remain the core pillars of any transit offer. From accepting a variety of fare media to flexible ticketing options which can be adapted to meet unique needs, networks must account for all demographics that may wish to use their service.

A unified ticketing offer can go a long way to advancing this accessibility. One single ticketing scheme that facilitates travel on all modes of transport simplifies the process for passengers who can now move seamlessly between operators. Another way to enhance accessibility is by bringing uniformity to signage and stations. From signage at stations and on vehicles, to the digital interfaces customers use to purchase and validate their tickets and the fare descriptions they use to decide on the appropriate ticket, uniformity helps to reassure travelers, especially those who are vulnerable or less confident. This therefore helps build ridership through providing a seamless and trusted service.

Modernized payment solutions.

In a unified ticketing system, passengers must be able to flow seamlessly through a network. When moving between multiple different modes of transport, passengers must feel confident they have the right ticket and have been charged the correct amount for the journey they make. This means that more and more complex scenarios must be accounted for as passengers can take multiple journeys across different operators. At the end of their travel, they then must be charged correctly for the combination of services used. Emerging ideas such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) are compounding this challenge, weaving together public and private mobility offers and the different sales and communication channels that each run on.  

In addition to this, passengers also want to be able to pay with their preferred payment means through any sales channel in the system. From contactless cards and mobile wallets to real time account-to-account transfers (also known as Instant Payment or Fast Payment) or Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) the number of different ways to pay continues to increase. Succeeding in the efficient integration of payments with several merchants and service providers is a challenge. And amongst all this, it is crucial to remember that certain demographics will still want to use cash. Taking this option away may leave those who are unbanked or without a compatible smart device with no way to access a network.

Blockchain and Tokenization.

Protecting an ever-increasing number of travel taps and digital payments without compromising on user privacy can be a major challenge for increasingly connected systems. By leveraging blockchain technologies, networks can protect transactions with increased security and auditability.

In addition, by turning information such as a passenger’s card details, passenger profiles and their travel preferences into a token, networks can shield potentially sensitive data within a transaction. This means that in the event of a breach, no personal data is exposed to fraudsters, protecting both the integrity of the passenger’s data and the reputation of the transit operator. This approach bolsters data security, enshrines confidentiality within a unified ticketing data sharing model, and promotes controlled openness of information in compliance with local privacy laws. All of these factors combined facilitate enhanced passenger trust in a network. 

Artificial Intelligence.

The use of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been at the heart of debates across almost every connected ecosystem, and ticketing is no different. In a vertical that relies on such a large amount of data, AI has the power to analyze real-time travel and payment events, as well as network resource usage to identify any key trends or issues as they happen. 

This has the potential to give networks unparalleled levels of insight to ensure that their focus is in the right place at the right time, optimizing the passenger journey to provide smooth travel experience. From capacity planning and system monitoring to fare revenues and budgeting refinement, stakeholders can be empowered to make informed, data-led decisions ensure their transit network keeps improving.

There are of course notable challenges to overcome when using AI. Primarily, networks must have full confidence in the security of their chosen AI tool. They cannot risk compromising the data of either their own operations or their passengers, especially if it relates to any personal, commercially sensitive, or financial information. A network must also ensure that its infrastructure is capable of handling such a large volume of data or risk the entire system going down. 

Digital identity.

Digital identity initiatives are growing around the world, with stakeholders investing in the required infrastructure to process and manage large amounts of personal data. The EU Digital Identity (EUDI) Wallet, for example, aims to have 80% of citizens onboarded to its eID solution by 2030. Transport providers can use this infrastructure to create seamless onboarding processes that validate the identity of users quickly and easily.

This seamless identification process allows networks to address one of the common limitations of most tap-and-go transit solutions; the inability to seamlessly grant concessionary fares. By integrating digital identity infrastructure, a ticketing network can quickly and easily validate any concessions a passenger is eligible for and apply them automatically. This ensures the passenger gets the best fare available to them without any additional friction.

Additionally, eID solutions help strengthen trusted delegation across a transit network. By using strong authentication for secure access to filtered data, networks reinforce their privacy management protocols. This also allows them to share the burden of GDPR compliance with trusted partners who specialize in the field. This frees up time and resources for a network to focus on delivering an outstanding service to passengers.

Working with Fime.

By working with Fime, transit providers benefit from a more than just its expertise in smart mobility and transport. With specialists in fields including payments, biometrics, eID and beyond, Fime can also incorporate new and emerging technologies that provide additional security and convenience for both passengers and operators.

Find out more about how Fime can help deliver your unified ticketing project today.

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