13 Jun 2021
Suppliers Flowbird Transport Intelligence
Leading the Open Payments Revolution on the Road to MaaS
Flowbird serves some 5,000 cities in 70 countries with IoT solutions for smart urban mobility and parking. A core element on the pathway to mobility as a service (MaaS) is Flowbird’s innovations in open payments. Francois Mottet, Head of Product Strategy at Flowbird, explains how open payments will help enable a smarter, joined up future for transport authorities, operators and citizens.
Open payments is part of a revolution in financial services that falls under the general term ‘open banking’, which allows third parties to access data from consumer banking transactions to deliver innovative new services. Thanks to open payments, companies like transport operators can manage and monitor payments without needing to build their own payment and ticketing systems from the ground up.
Consider that in 2010, Transport for London was spending £100 million annually to administer its payment card system. Public transport operators need not spend this type of money layering a payment system on-top of existing global payment networks, which companies like MasterCard, Visa, and Carte Bancaire (CB) have already created.
What’s more, an open payments system is hugely convenient. Travellers simply need to tap their contactless bank card, or contactless smartphone payment app, and then present that same card when they board the bus or the train. The entire payment and ticketing transaction is managed via an open payment system.
To make things simple for passengers, an open payments system requires that we build an API (application programming interface) that interfaces with the payment network processor (e.g. MasterCard or Visa) to deliver all the relevant information to the transport operator.
CloudFare is Flowbird’s white label cloud-hosted mobility management system, which includes Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Ticketing-as-a-Service. With CloudFare, we can manage discounts for multiple journeys and apply fare capping rules on behalf of the operator.
Customers needn’t buy a pass to reduce their transport costs; the system works out their usage and guarantees the best fare. And, through our own Payment Acceptance System connected to a financial service institution, we guarantee operators a secure revenue settlement process. CloudFare makes things that much simpler for users and for transport operators, making it possible for a bank card or mobile device to be used as a travel pass.
Through open payments, transport services that are separately managed can be seamlessly linked so that they function as one service for the end user. Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) is high on the agenda for many cities across the world because it provides frictionless and integrated access to – and payment for – public and private modes of transports through a single transaction mechanism. Open payments and other ‘open banking’ innovations will help us realise the MaaS dream as companies like ours set up APIs that use data from mobility providers to facilitate mobility services.
Flowbird is already an established provider of contactless card ticketing and payment systems to public transport operators across the world, and is now leading the way on MaaS projects. We recently help develop and deploy a MaaS project in Monaco that integrates bus transport (with open payments), bike share and on-street parking. This will soon be extended to other modes of transport.
Over the 15 years that I have been with Flowbird, it has been exciting to see how fast things have changed in our industry. Going from a core business that delivered parking payment and transport ticketing solutions to helping build an entirely new industry – MaaS – is hugely exciting.
We now have the technology for cities to improve transport services for citizens while reducing pollution and congestion. It’s great being on the cutting edge of change and being recognised for it, as we were recently when Flowbird won an Innovation Award for its open payment expertise.
However, the real joy is in seeing how we can facilitate the move away from single-car ownership to shared mobility platforms, something which open payment is revolutionising on the road to MaaS.
This article was originally published by Flowbird.
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