How Smart Ticketing is revolutionising transport with one simple mobile app

How Smart Ticketing is revolutionising transport with one simple mobile app

The rapid rise of new technologies is fundamentally changing the way we live. Whether it’s buying a coffee using your phone, unlocking it using your fingerprint or moving around rail networks with no physical ticket, the world is constantly updating and improving every day experiences.

Smart Ticketing will be trialled through the UK at the end of the year.

Now comes smart ticketing. Designed and distributed by Rambus ticketing, travel just got smarter. Already establishing a smartcard, Rambus moved deeper into the technology sector to develop a smart ticketing app. Gone are the days of holding multiple tickets, for different journeys, different vouchers or railcards – now users can have them all in one place, and with the tap of a button you tap in and out of zones through your phone.

Smart Ticketing is an operating system where a ticket is stored electronically on a microchip rather than a paper ticket, for example Oyster cards. Along with Oyster cards and contactless payment, this operating system is quickly becoming popular across the country’s transport network looks to offer a new side to smart ticketing, through smartphone technology.

CBR’s April Slattery spoke to Russell McCullagh, Managing Director of the Rambus Ticketing division, to dig a little deeper into the development of the technology, what it can do for users, operators and how it will change the transport system for the better.


AS: How have you implemented smart ticketing?

RM: “Currently, smart ticketing is used on a smart card. There’s two main phases, the first roll out is of concessionary travel schemes, so if you’re a certain age you will get a smart card from the local authority that allows you to get free travel on the bus or concessionary travel on rail and metro.

“With over 10 million card holders for concessionary, the second phase targets commercial ticketing. Lots of local authorities and passenger transport operators deliver commercial smart cards schemes as well, in all modes of transport, for example the Robin Hood card which allows you to take smart card and travel around the Nottingham area. National Rail also now has several smart card schemes that are delivered by the railway group across different routes.”

AS: What is next after smartcard?

RM: “In January, Rambus announced the HCE ticketing wallet service, which allows you to use your mobile phone the same way you would a physical smartcard, so the way you would take your smart card and tap at the gate or bus, you do exactly the same with your mobile phone. Tap your phone at the gate and it will allow you to pass through the gate because the tickets are contained within your phone.”

AS: What is the technology behind this?

RM: “Host card emulation, which uses the phone to communicate wirelessly with the gate or the ticket machine in exactly the same way that you would with a physical smart card so it’s not a QR or barcode, it’s a virtual representation of a smart card. It works on a pay-as-you-go system. It’s important because the technology of smart card ticketing gives a much higher security than a barcode.”

“Simply press a button on your phone to say ‘here I am I’m starting my journey’”
Russell McCullagh

AS: Where currently uses smart ticketing?

RM: “Smart card is across the UK already, with concessionary usage of 10million cards across the UK. There are already large schemes across the UK for commercial schemes. All rail stations across London are ITSO enabled, so the HCE ticketing app could be used at these stations by passengers.”

AS: How are you going to get frictionless mobile ticketing across the UK as well as the larger cities?

RM: “Even though not every station across the UK has a physical gate to scan through with a smart card, the mobile application gives the ability to know where you are, link that information to the journey you’ve taken to the ticket that you have and your location information.”

AS: How does it benefit customers?

RM: “The smart ticketing app is better from the initial registration point of view; from going online to buy your card to purchasing tickets and getting added benefits. With a smart card you’d buy it over the internet and have it delivered by post. With the ticketing app use your phone to register for the virtual smart card and instantly have it delivered to your mobile phone in real time, purchase your product and go. After applying, all purchases are done within the app and downloaded straight to your device, meaning you don’t have to queue at the ticket machine anymore.

The Great thing about a mobile platform is that it allows you to join up a lot more services – not just about the journey you’re taking, but about making it much easier for example rather than tap through a gate it will be based on where you are. Press a button on your phone to say “here I am, I’m starting my journey”. Whilst taking the journey, the app offers other benefits based on the journey you’re taking giving real time information based on what you’re doing, offering things that are valuable to you such as discount on coffee while you’re travelling or things you could buy at a stadium or validate parking.”

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AS: How is Rambus Ticketing involved?

RM: “Rambus provide smart cards and the systems that register the transactions, sell the tickets and capture data that is collated as you travel. Rambus also excel in security for the smart ticketing app, the sister company Rambus payments are heavily involved in the industry allowing you to use your mobile phone to buy a coffee.

Rambus provide the back office software called a ‘HOPS’ that currently processes ITSO based smart card transaction used in London stations.”

AS: What smartphone’s is the ticketing wallet available on?

RM: “The smart ticketing solution is available for all NFC enabled Android devices. iPhone/iOS is not currently supported by the smart ticketing app.”

AS: What is the security behind the technology?

RM: “Security is similar to a smart card being used for transport. Digital tickets themselves have their own security key and security seals. If you lose your device and it is found to be presented at a station gate/bus ticket machine it will be declined, in comparison to if a paper ticket is stolen it cannot be traced or replaced for free.”

AS: What is your vision for the next five to ten years?

RM: “With a lot of people still using ticketing that is paper based there is a huge opportunity to grow the app. The first step was the mobile platform, so many people utilise their mobile phone for so many things. Then delivering this successfully across the UK and we’re already looking at options to expand outside the UK.”

Russell is Managing Director of Rambus ticketing, with over 25 years’ experience in semiconductor and software industries, beginning his career with Motorola where he held a range of roles within the Smart Card Division. Formerly at Ecebs Ltd before Rambus, Russell’s role involved growing an operational and delivery team for smart card and back office solutions. He is also a board director of Rambus Ticketing and Nevis Technologies.

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Rambus’ HCE Smart Ticketing Wallet was announced in January and will be trialled throughout the UK in the second half of this year, expecting to roll out the product on a wider base next year.

The development of Rambus’ HCE Ticketing app brings technology one step closer to being a frictionless experience for travellers, enabling them to need only their beloved phone to travel across the UK with. With added benefits of discount codes, vouchers and other experiences along the way it benefits customers in more ways than one; no limits to your travel, where you’re going, what you’re doing the smart ticketing takes travel to another unimaginable level, that will soon be the future of travel and become reality.