Mobile payments are becoming commonplace, and are making public transport more convenient. However, they are not just a convenience - mobile payments can have a major impact on the evolution of public transport. For example, promoting cooperation between public and private transport services, allowing social services to support weaker populations, and reducing paper ticket waste.
Read on to learn how mobile payments are changing public transportation:
- Zero-friction payments with contactless technology
- Cooperation between public transport and private services
- Supporting social services through mobile transit aid programs
- Broader access via transit card apps
- Reduced waste with mobile ticketing
1. Zero-Friction Payments with Contactless Technology
Contactless payments are made using mobile devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches, or fitness trackers. These devices store payment information for the user, eliminating the need to physically swipe a card or present cash.
These type of payments are enabled by Near-Field Communication (NFC), the technology works by allowing wireless data transfer without the requirement of an internet connection. When two NFC chips are within a few centimeters, data is transferred.
Contactless payments are growing more common in public transit. They have already been adopted in several major US cities as well as Germany, The Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK. In the future, this technology promises to make payment completely seamless - allowing commuters to simply walk onto a bus or train.
2. Cooperation Between Public Transport and Private Services
Numerous transport services have begun integrating public transportation access into their websites and applications. For example, some ride hailing providers have now added the ability to book bus or train tickets into their offering.
Through smart transportation solutions, public and private transportation can be integrated into one single platform. Users are then able to easily view schedule information across different travel modes - encouraging multi-modal transportation and in turn, helping to reduce pressure at high-demand times.
3. Supporting Social Services Through Mobile Transit Aid Programs
Social service organizations are starting to take advantage of mobile payment systems. Organizations can more easily provide transit stipends to qualifying passengers who use payment apps.
Tying benefits to mobile apps allows civil and transport authorities to ensure that benefits are only used by intended individuals, reducing the risk of beneficiaries selling or sharing vouchers. Additionally, data collected from the mobile payments means that the effectiveness of benefits provision and the overall transit system can be improved. Bogota, Columbia, is one example of a city that has successfully implemented this strategy.
4. Broader Access Via Transit Card Apps
Transit card applications are a way of tying mobile payments to existing analog cards. This is a common method for public transport systems to handle the introduction of the technology. Apps enable passengers to pay via smart devices while still allowing those without such devices to top up cards at kiosks or service desks. Adding apps to existing card technologies is significantly cheaper for transit authorities than implementing new systems.
Using mobile payment apps, passengers can top up transit cards at any time. They no longer need to find a kiosk or station attendant to add value to their cards. Passengers can also more easily check card balances, ride histories, and report lost or stolen cards. Additionally, since payments are made from their own mobile devices, there is a reduced risk of personal information being stolen. For example, skimmers could be illegally added to payment machines.
Overall, transit cards are making transport accessible to additional populations - such as digital-first consumers who can’t be bothered with physical tickets, or busy individuals who need a simple and convenient payment solution.
5. Reduced Waste With Mobile Ticketing
Mobile ticketing is often used in combination with mobile payments, although it can be used separately. For example, when a consumer purchases an airline ticket from a desktop site, they may be presented with a ticket they can download to their smartphone.
Mobile tickets often use or Quick Response (QR) codes or some other barcode technology. QR codes are matrix codes that can transmit information when scanned, these are often part of the mobile ticket which can be displayed on any device with a screen.
Mobile ticketing can help eliminate issues caused by lost or forgotten tickets as passengers are significantly less likely to forget their smartphone. Production costs are lessened since tickets no longer need to be physically printed or supplied, and the reduction in paper waste has positive environmental impacts too.
The Future of Payments in Public Transport
The many benefits of mobile payments mean adoption in public transportation will continue to increase. As technology advances, additional payment flexibility and convenience will be added. One such example is biometrics, which works through fingerprints or face recognition.
As mobile payment usage rises so does the connection of demographic and location-based data which are tied to smart devices. With this data, transit authorities and anyone else with access to it can better see how riders use public transportation and plan accordingly.
Put together, these advancements will lead to an increase in the adoption of public transport and a decrease in the use of private vehicles. As public transit becomes easier and more convenient to use, the hassles of managing a private vehicle become less worthwhile. A reduction in personally-owned vehicles will relieve traffic congestion, improve air quality and, by extension, quality of life in major urban centers.