Transit applications can take Payments from here to a Trillion Dollar industry Globally

Unattended payment situations are asking for innovation. Mobile/Tags/Devices based electronic transit payments can do a lot to address this opportunity.

This alone can be the biggest driver of revenues for suppliers and cost reduction, process optimization for transport, toll and transit authorities. Some examples below:

1) I have always appreciated the toll electronic payment innovation. e.g., FasTrak – the Electronic Toll Collection system (ETC) used in the state of California. FasTrak eliminates the need for cars to stop to pay at toll booths and helps reduce the traffic jams associated with toll roads.

2) Parking and transportation ticketing equipment supplier IEM is to bring NFC payments to an initial 1,000 solar powered 'pay and display' parking ticket machines in France, using UIC's UIC680 low power payments module. Motorists will be able to pay for parking with a range of contactless cards or their NFC phone. Presto Pay NFC will then be gradually added to around 5,000 machines in other European countries, IEM's Phillipe Menaud told NFC World.

3) Austrian Railway WESTbahn, recently rolled out a new payment technology with the help of VeriFone’s mobile technology and IOS devices. Customer service representatives on WESTbahn trains carry iPods that fit into a cradle to enable easy payments. It takes the customer service windows away, and it also allows people with NFC enabled mobile phones to tap their devices to make a payment.

'There is a general trend in mobility with companies taking advantage of consumer mobile devices, such as iPhones, iPads and iPods,' said Paul Rasori, V.P of Marketing at Verifone.

4) Masabi sells its smartphone platform, JustRide, to various transit agencies in the US and UK. JustRide is a cloud-based, end-to-end mobile ticketing and fare collection system. It constitutes various applications that enable ticket purchase, use and validation, all on the go. Masabi’s solution claims to enable transit agencies to revolutionize riding transit by allowing customers to purchase tickets without needing to wait in line.

This discussion would be incomplete without discussing some of the successful cashless cards. Launched in 2010, Clipper Card is a reloadable contactless smart card utilized for electronic transit fare payment. It was initially introduced in 2002 by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) as a pilot program in the U.S. It was rebranded in its current form on 16th June 2010.

ORCA ‘One region card for all’ smart card was launched in April, 2009 in the US. ORCA smart card is a plastic card containing an embedded microchip processor that can keep track of travel fares. It uses contact-less technology so user needs to bring it within a few inches of a card reader for it to work.

Introduction of Oyster Card in July 2003, a pay as you go card service has changed the way payments are made by the bus passengers In London. Currently there are less than 1% of the commuters who pay through cash for traveling in a Bus in London. Oyster card has an inbuilt chip system and is based on RFID technology.

The above three cards are great examples of transit electronic payments but converting them into mobile based system will be even better. Why do we need to carry these cards? NFC with it's many ways to secure element can be a good enabling technology. Soundwaves and other contactless mobile tech also looks promising.

Transit cashless and contactless applications are not just an expensive proposition for developed countries. In fact countries like India need it even more. India has narrower roads, with more cars, bikes and all sorts of transport hacks. The road and toll infrastructure is already quite overwhelmed. If the above systems can be implemented, it will solve a bigger problem than anywhere else in the world.