What did you use to pay for your commute into work this morning? A smartcard? A paper season ticket? A metal token? A contactless bank card? Or perhaps good old fashioned cash? Whatever your method of payment it is an area of priority for your transport provider. Here in London, since September 2014, the SmartRail team have been able to use their bank card, assuming they have the correct contactless technology, to touch in and touch out at the ticket barriers in the same way they would use an Oyster card, with the charge being deducted directly from their bank account. And Transport for London (TfL) have in 2015, taken this further by extending contactless payments to wearable technology, including a sticker and key fob offered by Barclaycard, and Apple Pay is also now accepted. We were keen to learn more about where the payments sector was heading, so our Editor Luke Upton went to meet Laurent Cremer, Executive Director, OSPT Alliance to learn about how the association is adapting to our changing industry.
The Open Standard for Public Transport (OSPT) Alliance is a global not-for-profit association chartered to provide the standard for secure transit fare collection solutions. Laurent Cremer has held the position of Executive Director of OSPT Alliance since its formation by leading technology companies in 2010. With 20 years industry experience, Laurent leads the Alliance’s efforts to provide industry education, create workgroup opportunities and further the development and adoption of innovative fare collection technologies, applications and services. Membership is open to technology providers, transit operators, consultants, solution vendors, government agencies and other stakeholders in the transit, mobile, and related, ecosystems.
To open up our conversation I ask Laurent to describe some of the major changes he has seen in his time in the industry; “They’ve been pretty big changes! We’ve obviously seen the spread of smartcard technology across transport systems around the world. And different parts of the world are at different periods of development with their implementation. I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as the market is seeing the potential of evolving fare collection technology. Transit agencies and rail operators are at a point where they can secure seamless fare collection solutions by using existing technologies. But there are still barriers. Let me give you an example from France: smartcards are in use in Paris and many other cities, but each city or region has a different one. There is no integration as you travel across the country. And this is the case across the world. One development that we believe can offer a solution to this problem is open standards.”
At the heart of the OSPT Alliance is this focus on open standards and how they foster competition, innovation and growth. As a commitment to this belief, they have established the CIPURSE open security standard designed with the needs of local and regional transit authorities in mind. I ask Laurent for some further detail on the benefits of open standards:
“There are numerous examples around the world, which demonstrate how open standards foster competition, innovation and growth. For rail and transit authorities they help create a competitive marketplace – they no longer have to rely on one supplier, can purchase off-the-shelf cards, readers, mobile devices, have an easier path to interoperability with other agencies and are able to adopt and integrate with new technologies better. We at the OSPT believe the future lies with truly open platforms.”
When a transit agency or rail operator makes a shift to a new payment system they enter a balancing act between the efficiencies and flexibilities newly available and possible disruption and displacement. And added to this challenge are new payment technologies such as wearables or contactless bank cards and shifting demands from passengers. With an increasing number of choices, I ask Laurent where they stand on these changes and if they strengthen or weaken their place in the industry:
“The beauty of open standards is that they are technology and media agnostic. And being independent of hardware they can be deployed anywhere. Yes, there are some new deployments of bank cards, as in London. But I don’t see us as having an incompatibility with a bank card and CIPURSE can still be used in conjunction with it. Plus also we need to consider that London is ahead of most cities when it comes to this technology. And there are also disadvantages of bank use – the data that smartcards deliver to transit agencies will be lost and questions of security and whether people want to be using their bank cards in this fashion. But I myself use a bank card to travel when in London for just a day and know that banks and OSPT have lots to share as our technologies converge.”
It’s been a busy year for the OSPT Alliance with new members joining from South Korea, Brazil, Slovenia and more. And a further illustration of their open standards growth, on the day I spoke to Laurent the metropolitan transportation authority ATM (Autoritat del Transport Metropolità) of Barcelona announced they will start switching their electronic ticketing system from magnetic stripe cards to chip-based tickets in 2016 before being rolled out across Catalonia. The security chips for the “T-Mobilitat” smart card, made by Infineon is based on the CIPURSE standard.
"Smart transportation infrastructure is key for sustainable urban development," explains Josep Anton Grau i Reinés, CEO of the ATM on the confirmation of the launch; "With the ‘T-Mobilitat’ project based on the CIPURSE security standard we implement a very flexible, cost-efficient and particularly future-proof system. It allows us to offer multiple applications on various contactless devices including smart cards and mobile phones. This will increase passengers’ convenience and make public transportation more attractive”.
With the year coming to a close, I ask Laurent to conclude with a few thoughts on some priorities for 2016; “It’s a really exciting time for the Alliance. We launched in 2010, and after five years of building this year took us from the promise to the reality. We now have 11 products in the field, with up to 15 by the end of next year. We’ve grown into new territories such as Hungary and Brazil and are seeing members from new sectors – chip manufacturers are now joining for example. As we move into 2016 we’ll continue to see our shift from preparation to deployment. And with smartcards growing in their use, and the ability to use our standards across other emerging technologies, CIPURSE is only limited by your imagination!”
OSPT Alliance is hosting a free-to-attend webinar on Tuesday 8 December and Wednesday 9 December, on how its CIPURSE™ open standard can be implemented on near field communication (NFC)-enabled devices. Visit the website to register.
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