ID-based ticketing, the next revolution in transport

05 / 02 / 2018

The world moves faster and faster towards instantaneous one to one gratification, simplification of processes, time saving products but all with intimate personal service. We aspire to deliver more and more to human wants over basic needs. To deliver to our wants, we have to be able to identify each and every human. Take a look at your smart phones, it knows you. It allows your face to open the phone, download apps, pay bills. It is unique.

6 min.

Man smiling while holding mobile phone in a train platform

Once I have taken a breath with my eyes balanced against the light, it is time to “check in” on the other side of my unique and individual personality, the digital one. Check out Twitter, look at Instagram and, if I can bring myself to do it, peruse LinkedIn, all of which are unique to me, no one else in the world will see what I see.

The sense of connection, the immersion in information, the appreciation of perspectives is unique.

The world moves faster and faster towards instantaneous one to one gratification, simplification of processes, time saving products but all with intimate personal service. We aspire to deliver more and more to human wants over basic needs.

To deliver to our wants, we have to be able to identify each and every human. Take a look at your smart phones, it knows you. It allows your face to open the phone, download apps, pay bills. It is unique.

The balance between needs and wants has shifted from focus on either needs or wants to focus on a balanced life where survival is psychologically linked to desires and ambitions which brings convergence of human emotion and psychological dynamics.

Convergence is a fundamental of the world we live in today

We hear it through buzz words such as “omnichannel” and “single customer view”. But what does these mean? Maybe we should “think outside the box” to understand!

I use the word “convergence” but that could be changed with “Being Human” because, by nature, we evolve and adapt, invent and create. We simplify our lives, make things easier which in my opinion is done in order to “save time” – nowadays especially.

“Time” is the main driver of our existence, all of us are “on the clock”, we don’t want to be inefficient with our time or to waste time. We currently cannot get to the other side of the wormhole; time travel is not something that, as a species, we have achieved yet. So, we do the next best thing, we, as a species, are always looking to be more efficient with time whether that is communication or travel:

  • Cave painting to hieroglyphics, to the Pony Express to the telegram to the telephone
  • Walking to animals to horse and cart to bikes to trains to cars
  • Not satisfied with where we are at - we then invent inside inventions:
  • The telephone replaced by 280 characters, saves time!
  • The car that will drive itself, saves time!

So, in my opinion, we are not time travelers but we are “Time Harvesters”, always looking for ways to reap more seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years from the life we have sown.

Moving from Mass Transit to one-to-one communication

My current interest is in Mass Transit which is an interesting phrase in its own right. It appears to be something that Transport Operators, both physical and virtual, work hard to create. Operators manage customers not as individuals but as a swarm where we are funneled in and out of transport networks.

The very phrase “Mass Transit” by definition shows the strategy that is adopted. I completely understand that, at a point where the primary focus is customer end to end speed, the last thing that is needed is a “one-to-one” conversation. But there is a level of de-personalization about the current systems.

That said just because there are a lot of people wanting to move at speed, it does not mean that we should not be looking to add a better customer experience to the service provision. Society today expects more, the instantaneous world that we live in where consumption is immediate.

At Worldline, we believe that providing solutions around payment that “harvest time” allows our customers and their customers to provide increased satisfaction.

Harvesting of time with Digital Ticketing

We provide many payment services globally but one of the key strategic ambitions is in Digital Ticketing where the convergence of payment and ticketing will allow the harvesting of time, allowing faster and simpler access to transport services.

The days of hundreds, if not millions, of fare and origin/destination combinations are passed, the move to Account-Based Ticketing, whether ITSO, Calypso or VDV, has allowed the implementation of electronic ticketing into transport systems.

But these implementations inevitably follow the existing ticketing and fare processes that exist in the transport operator today. The reason for that, in my opinion, is that there is fear of change that will have impacts on revenue. Just ask Blockbuster Videos or Kodak about fear of change.

There is very little fear of loss of customers in public transport operators as they, in the majority, operate in a monopoly market where competition is not real and therefore pricing and fares are in-elastic to normal supply and demand economics of a true free market.

The move to Account-Based Ticketing has brought with it more and more complexity for the true customer where they are required to:

  • Sign up
  • Acquire a Smartcard
  • Top up the Smartcard
  • Link their payment details to the Smartcard
  • Not able to use the many mobile applications to access transport networks
  • Still buy the same “ticket” for the same “fare” to “load” onto their Smartcard

So, as you can see, the only difference with Account-Based Ticketing and traditional ticketing is that it is more complex with tighter controls from PTO’s and less flexibility and openness to the customer.


ID-based ticketing will be the next revolution in transport

The convergence of payment and ticketing, as seen in London, does allow the “harvesting of time”, access to the transport systems is seamless and, with the exception of taking an existing card out of a wallet, friction free. This is a step forward.

My phone knows me, one quick glance and it opens up my world, just as my brain does in the morning sun. So, my face is my ID. So why not apply this to ticketing?

Let’s just pause a minute and address the simplicity of what I am saying versus the reality of the world we live in. I fully understand that giving up your identity to technology is, for a lot of people, something that brings caution, nervousness and fear. I understand that systemic and revolutionary change cannot just be “turned on” overnight. That said we are not far away.

We, at Worldline, believe that ID-based ticketing will be the next revolution in transport. The ID does not have to be biometric, i.e. your face, fingerprint, iris etc. It can start somewhere else with contactless bank cards, license plates, passports or even your Social Media account as long as we as individuals accept that change is inevitable.

The benefits of using existing IDs in the ticketing world will make the experience of the customer seamless and friction free, there will be an increase in satisfaction and, with the right infrastructure, an increase in revenue collected.

The paralysis that the fear of change brings into many boardrooms worldwide has to be starred down. The challenge of “adoption”, “revenue leakage”, “loss of customers”, are flights of fantasy.

We already have in the world:

  • cEMV
  • Tokenisation
  • Be in Be Out
  • Biometrics

Bringing it into transport should be a natural extension of the wider world not a challenge on a herculean scale. Do we want to be Blockbuster or Netflix?

The ID that we have as people allows us to be human, it is unique and allow us to be recognized as a single individual. The evolution and revolution of the world over millennium has allowed us as a species to “harvest time”. The primary aim of travel and transport is to move our species as fast as possible between two different points, in doing that we should also be focusing on the access part of the experience and looking to revolutionize in line with the likes of autonomous vehicles and on demand transport systems.

The generations coming up quickly behind us just want to move, simply and quickly, they won’t own cars, they do want to access services simply, they trust technology in the same way generations before them trusted the telephone, telegram, the Pony Express, hieroglyphics and cave paintings.

They were all new at some point in time but they all evolved, change happens, we either decide to roll with it, lead it and drive it or accept our terminal decline.

Time is short, we all only get one shot at this life, the more time we can harvest for what we want to do from the important parts of our life the better.

Before we know it, we will be joining Starman in a trip to Mars.

James Bain

Chief Executive Officer, Worldline UK&I