Talking ticketing with Rambus

Rambus’s Stephen McSpadden (Senior Product Manager, Ticketing) spoke to Contactless Intelligence at their recent conference. While the usual suspects fill our email in-boxes with ever more news of contactless EMV deployments or new record numbers of contactless transactions, it is interesting to see how there are ever more developments not just in technology, but in emerging market segments and  business models – and it is also ever more clear there is no one magic bullet to solve our contactless payment and transit needs. Listen to what Stephen has to say on the subject.

We also asked a few more questions of Stephen who was kind enough to answer via email for us.

So what has changed in the past year?

Well, technically, we are seeing real deployments of what has been mainly buzzwords over the last 2 years. Host Card Emulation in transit is now here – it is being deployed in real world trials. In the UK alone, Transport for the North have a trial in rail around Leeds and SPT in Glasgow will be launching their trial using Rambus’ HCE Ticketing service in a few months. None of this could happen without the support of the specification body ITSO who are supporting and encouraging these developments while holding us suppliers to account.

In fact, ITSO have recently joined the OSPT Alliance as full members and are active participants in the HCE Working Group. That Working group produced a proof of concept and guidance at the beginning of the year at Transport Ticketing. The CIPURSE HCE Working Group, has, since then, doubled in membership, and are now actively working to produce a set of HCE specifications that will address how those looking for an open ticketing platform can make best use of HCE in the mobile space.

Also, in the industry, the benefits of the contributions of groups like Transport Focus are really starting to show. Operators are spending more time than ever examining at what the customer actually wants to do: get from A to B for the best price but without having to have to spend hours figuring it out. As part of that, the operators are really starting to use analytics to improve the service for their customers.

In terms of the infrastructure, the operators now see that there are ways to make more use of what they already have to deliver the engaging mobile based solutions their customers now expect. They have realised there are lower cost, off-the-shelf technology platforms they can use to provide valuable services and information to their staff and the travelling public.

There is this ever increasing convergence of ticketing, payments, and even ID. These are not separate things any more. They can all be serviced by a number of mobile and non-mobile based solutions. Never has there been more happening all at once – and in truth – it’s not going to slow down any time soon.

I honestly think we’re only getting started, and that’s actually both exciting and exhausting to even just think about.

What does this mean for those looking to deploy contactless solutions (in transit)?

They now have more cost effective options than ever – which can be an issue sometimes as you get analysis paralysis. But look, there are now real cost effective solutions no matter where you are starting from. Not got a validation infrastructure or entering a scheduled upgrade cycle? Excellent  – you’ve got some great new lower cost options and you can build in protection for the future by installing hardware that will accept everything from barcode, contactless EMV, ITSO or other closed loop smart card solutions – which themselves might in the form of cards, mobile phones, watches, rings, watch straps or other wearables  or … so the list goes on.

And the better news is that a lot of these new smart media are just as happy working with an existing smart card based validation infrastructure. And let’s not forget visually verifiable. That too will have a place and role.

Is this the beginning of the end for smart cards – didn’t we ask that last year?

More like every year since … 2007? Here we are in London in 2017, and the UK is issuing new coins and plastic bank notes into peoples’ hands. Similarly, I’d say we can be pretty sure there will be a need for cards for a while yet. The unbanked and underbanked still need a way to pay and it’s true that the transit operators are moving away from cash. These – and concession holders – will all need some sort of “instrument” to travel. Cards aren’t dead yet.

Are specification bodies keeping up with business and technical demands/developments

They are certainly working harder than ever to try! Certification of this technology is a real headache for some and it depends where in the world you are deploying all this too. But there is a lot of cross-market, or cross-industry, review and evaluation going on. The industry is getting better at not re-inventing wheels. I think I said it last year too that open specifications, with strong certification and widespread review by the wider community experts has to be on the checklist of those who have the responsibility of specifying the technical solutions for a large-scale transit operation. That’s still true – and is on the things to do list for those responsible for certification.

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Categories: Ticketing, Transportation

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