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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Online or secure element for your transport tickets?

A few weeks after Paris, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it was about to get rid of its MetroCard, and to terminate the use of magnetic stripe altogether. New York MTA has contracted with Cubic Transportation Systems to replace its outdated MetroCard with an open-fare system similar to the ones used in Chicago and London. The base contract award is US$ 539.5 million (EUR 465 million) with additional options worth US$ 33.9 million (EUR 29 million).

With this move, New York is getting into the restricted club of world cities using account-based fare collection. Public transport users will be able to create personalized transit accounts to see ride history, check balances, add value as well as report lost or stolen cards to protect their funds. They will also have the option of using payment methods such as credit and debit cards and mobile devices at the bus or turnstile, instead of purchasing and adding value to a separate fare card, to offer a retail payment experience to transit, according to Cubic. For those customers without a bank card or who prefer not to use one, a contactless card option will still be available with the same account management convenience features, they add.

Meanwhile in Paris, Ile-de-France Mobilités, the regional organizing authority has announced its will to get rid of the traditional Edmonson format cardboard tickets. Ticketing will be primarily from an NFC-enabled smartphone, with a SIM-embedded Secure Element. The management platform is to be developed by WizWay Solutions a joint venture owned by Orange, RATP, SNCF and Gemalto. The solution will allow passengers on public transport in the Ile-de-France to buy their tickets with a mobile app and validate them simply with their Smartphone. WizWay will take care of storing them securely on the Smartphone’s SIM card. Presenting the Smartphone to the reader or ticket controller, even when the phone is switched off or out of battery, will validate the ticket.

In others terms, while London has embraced the open loop (or account-based) solution already for a couple years, and many operators in the world in cities as diverse as New York City, Singapore, Chicago, Laval, Irkutsk and Sydney are following suit, Paris has chosen a solution secured by a secure element aboard a handset. This can be seen as the latest episode of the war between a full online world and a solution that relies on hardware with the secure element as a proven solution.

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