Market Insight

Mobility and payment in smart cities: Visa Global Transit Solutions

November 14, 2017  | Subscribers Only

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  • Visa introduces the Visa Global Transit Solutions, a worldwide programme to foster seamless commuting thorough contactless payments.
  • The new Visa Ready for Transit program incorporates new standards to simplify the certification of payment solutions for operators and transit solution providers easing consumers’ doubts.
  • Visa looks at the future with an Innovation Center based in London researching the future of transportation and new technologies.

Our analysis

The mobility vertical is one of the leading verticals within the smart city market with a total of 226 projects tracked within IHS Markit Smart Cities Project Database representing 25% of total projects, as of the third quarter of 2017. [...].

The new Visa transit program wants to help mass transit operators and technology providers of different sizes to add  contactless technology to their portfolio. Challenges for the programme are various from aligning interest of different service providers to overcoming companies and cities’ unwillingness to incur in additional costs and investments.

The programme has four main pillars:

  • Consulting: teams to help on implementation and assistance; this shows that market education is still needed to convince service providers and to ease their doubts regarding new technologies and deployments.
  • The mass transit transaction model: the model is a back-office framework to manage contactless payments. It supports the delivery of multiple fares such as fixed fare, distance or time-based fare, and multi modal.
  • Tools and standards: the Visa Ready Programme helps companies and their solutions to meet industry requirements and standards, thus easing customers’ fear of security standards and short lived technologies.
  • Future of transportation: Visa knows the technology space is fast paced and wants to collaborate and engage with transit operators, technology enablers, fintech companies and others to research and create new solutions. A move similar to what telco operators are doing with the creation of IoT Labs where technologies, solutions, and services are tested.

The programme aims to target and reduce the costs associated with cash transactions, in fact according to Visa’ Cashless Cities report, digital payments can significantly lower transit related costs. Transit agencies spend on average 14.5 cents for every physical dollar collected versus 4.2 cents for every dollar in digital form.

Contactless technology helps reducing the need for paper tickets and smart card. By doing so it also reduces related costs such as ticket selling points and required staff.

Such a programme is relevant in the wider smart city market because of its economic and social implications. Besides generating savings, contactless technology provides a better commuting experience, reducing waiting times at ticket machines, simplifying the payment process and consequently reducing traffic and congestion. For countries with a high risk of counterfeit notes this framework can also contribute to the reduction of expense related with counterfeit notes.

Future offering by Visa will likely be as added value services, such as fraud management and back-office capabilities and loyalty and marketing programs. Once deployed, a contactless solution opens the door for further developments with big data analytics set to take a decisive role in the developments of future services for the consumers.

Visa’s development is in line with MasterCard’s approach to smart city, mobility, and mass transit, which is based on using digital payments to reduce expenditures and support a seamless experience improving mobility within the city. MasterCard has been involved in multiple projects in various cities including London, Mexico City, Bogota, and Singapore. The company has deployed various solutions such as contactless payments and account based ticketing.

As for many other applications within smart cities, competition will be in ensuring a leading position in delivering the software for the project.

In addition to offering smart ticketing solutions, Visa and Mastercard are also proactively launch mobile financial services to step up in m-commerce. Visa and Mastercard both entered into Indian mobile payments market by rolling out QR code-based mobile money services to leverage the Indian government’s demonetisation policy. In the US, Visa collaborated with Stripe, Facebook and Uber to deliver funds in real-time. MasterCard supports fintech start-ups such as Monzo, Revolut and N26 to develop mobile banking services. With more emerging fintech services disrupting traditional banking and financial services, card networks such as Visa and MasterCard are diversifying their roles by innovating with new use cases and opening up to new partnerships to strengthen their positions in the market. 


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