Digital Commerce in Transport
Mobile technologies and services are set to usher in a new era for public transport, giving passengers a greater sense of control, reducing stress and enhancing the travel experience.
Both commuters and occasional travellers are already using their mobile devices to look up public transport information and purchase tickets, which they then typically print out or collect from a ticket machine or booth.
The next step is to use a combination of mobile and contactless technologies, such as NFC, to enable people to store electronic versions of their tickets on their mobile device. An NFC-enabled ticket can be delivered securely over a mobile network to the passenger’s handset. The transport operator can then use NFC readers to quickly validate the ticket.
For the transport operator, the combination of mobile and NFC technologies offers opportunities to both cut costs and increase revenues. Potential benefits include:
- Lower sales and distribution costs
- More flexible and interoperable ticket systems
- An effective mechanism to send passengers real-time personalised information, offers and rewards
- A platform for mobile commerce services, such as targeted advertising and marketing
- A foundation for complete, integrated solutions covering different modes of transport
- From a policy maker’s perspective, mobile technologies and services can also help to ease congestion across the transport system by giving citizens access to real-time information on the fastest way to get from A to B.
For example, a passenger using an NFC handset to check-out of a train station could receive a link to a personalised message advising them of the time and cost implications of the different options for their onward journey:
- The next bus home leaves in 10 minutes. The journey will take approximately 25 minutes and cost £2
- There are four taxis available. The drive home will take approximately 15 minutes and the fare will be approximately £20
- There are two hire bikes available and the ride home will take approximately 30 minutes and cost £1
The provision of this kind of timely, personalised information should make public transport easier to use, potentially reducing private car usage.
The role of mobile operators
Mobile operators around the world are rolling out mobile wallets and SIM-based NFC services designed to support transport operators’ electronic ticketing programmes. A mobile wallet is a specialist application that can manage digital versions of payment cards, loyalty cards, vouchers, tickets and other collateral normally found in a physical wallet.
In many cities around the world, transport operators are enabling transit tickets and account credentials to be stored securely on customers’ SIM cards and made visible through a mobile wallet. Some longer-distance travel operators, including airlines, are also delivering smart tickets to mobile devices.
Resources and information
For further information on the GSMA’s work in transport and ticketing, please visit our Resources and Information page.