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No Ticket Needed – Mobile Payment in Public Transportation

02.01.2018 Company

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Nowadays, phones are everywhere in our society. They help keep us organized, mobile, comfortable and entertained. By doing so, digitization is quickly being integrated into our everyday lives and numerous routine tasks. We read the morning news on our phone, write a reminder for next week and take a snapshot with our friends at dinner (or, in more than a few cases, a selfie with our food). We plan our day, plot our journeys, and if our chosen destination is a concert or a football match, then digital ticketing grants us access.

Driving this development are the wishes for convenience, efficiency and comfort. Both for customers and for employees. With the help of mobile phones, we gain access to a wide range of information and services. This marks a growing trend: The days we filled our bag with different cards and tickets are gone. Instead, the keyword is “All-in-one”.

With major partners like e-commerce giant Alibaba, Newland is one of the hardware manufacturers that leads the charge in this.

Going Ticketless in Urban China

Nowhere is this trend so evident as in urban China. Since paying with your mobile phone has become the new normal, major cities are almost completely cashless. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, by June 2017, 502 million Chinese consumers had used mobile payment solutions. That is 67% of the total internet users in China. Restaurants, supermarkets and even taxis are using QR codes to reduce cost, lines and, well, frustration. Now more than ever, people are looking for convenience that goes beyond the traditional transaction. As a result, eyes have turned to public transportation. With transit cards leaving plenty of room for improvement, mobile payment is proving itself the answer.

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On the Go in Hangzhou

Mobile payment in the public transportation system

No one wants to wait in long queues at the ticketing booth during rush hour. And so, in Hangzhou, from December 27, 2017 onwards no one should need to. As one of the largest metropolitan regions in China, an emerging technology hub and home to Alibaba, the city attracts more and more people with a demand for modern mobility. The city has implemented mobile payment in their subway, making the life of many commuters easier from 2018 onward. They are the first city in China to fully realize mobile payment in its public transportation system. Users of Alipay, a major mobile payment app by Alibaba, can swipe a QR code on their phone to enter the gates of all 72 subway stations in the city. Later, the price gets deducted from their Alipay account after they swipe to exit the subway.

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Keeping people moving – quick & easy barcode scanning

At the heart of this quest for the transport of the future is hardware. Reliability and efficiency is of great importance to the succes of the system. With thousands of passengers hopping on the subway everyday, a faulty or inefficient barcode scanner quickly leads to frustration and lines. To keep people moving, Hangzhou and Alibaba work with Newland.

Newland’s barcode scanners are found in the bus and at subway gates. In the busses, their EM20 scan engines (shown above) were already installed back in 2016. As a result, Hangzhou became the first city to accept mobile payment on all its busses. It proved to be a big success and cemented the cities reputation as a mobile application pioneer. Created as a small scanner with a big scan window, the EM20 integrates easily into the small kiosks next to the bus doors.

In public transport, the key challenge is the large chunk of passengers unaccustomed to scanning barcodes. Transport companies can hardly afford delays and complications in their ticketing systems. They are simply too expensive, causing a domino effect throughout the city. This is why the EM20 scan engine offered the ideal solution. The barcode scanner is particularly easy and straight-forward in use, making it intuitive, even for the most inexperienced commuter. Additionally, it is optimized for scanning from a mobile phone screen. This shows in how easily it scans under many different conditions. Reflections on the screen? No problem. Phone set to its lowest brightness level? All good. No matter the environment, device, screen orientation or user, the EM20 makes scanning fast and simple.

Reducing cost and stress in the subway

After the success in the bus system, Hangzhou is kicking off 2018 by replacing the physical tickets in their subway system as well. For the turnstiles at their stations, the city works with Newland’s FM30 Grouper (shown above), a popular fixed-mount scanner for customer-facing applications. Like the EM20, the FM30 Grouper is optimized for inexperienced scanning from mobile phone screen. It has a wide scanning angle and IR sensor, which lets it start up instantly when an object is approaching. This helps passengers get to their train quickly. They no longer need to queue up at the service window or self-service machine to buy tickets or top up their account. At the same time, it streamlines the flow of peak time commuters and eliminates the morning stress for those who snoozed one too many times.

On top of this, mobile payment greatly reduces the cost of transport companies. They need less ticketing staff, saving both manpower and material resources. Employees can focus on assisting passengers in other areas, making sure customers arrive at their destination relaxed and happy.

A Mobile Payment Future

When it comes to the future of mobile wallets, the sky is the limit. According to the latest survey by 251 Research, 29% of smartphone owners in the United States say they’re likely to use mobile payment apps. The types of mobile payment transactions and options available have grown exponentially and this shift shows no sign of stopping. As with any emerging technology, consumers will ultimately drive adoption. The speed of this will be determined by ease of use, convenience, accessibility and store adoption.

In urban China, society is close to being cashless, with public transportation being one of the final steps. For the rest of the world, it’s only a matter of time before mobile payment reaches their stop.

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Design & development: BuroBureaux