Better journeys, every day for everyone: How Visa is improving mobility

Nick Mackie, Head of Chip and Contactless for EU

January 08,2019 09:00 AM GMT

During the course of the last year, Visa made the bold decision to take our years of experience working with transit operators from around the world and created a framework to formalise and invest in the service. The program helps transit operators and integrators of any size add contactless payment acceptance across their transit network so that all people have to do is turn up and ride.

What an amazing year we’ve had! Visa has helped launch contactless transit in 20 cities across 12 countries (see full list below) and we have more than 150 projects in pilot or implementation phase, helping millions of people get where they are going faster and easier than ever before. We have also hosted 11 Visa Transforming Transit events, packed with PTOs, technology companies and government officials in every continent except Antarctica.

And consumers are adopting this great new way to ride even faster than we predicted: transit contactless transactions have been exceeding 50% on the year since the launch of Visa’s transit program (source: Visa contactless data through September 2018). These small daily transactions result in millions in Euros of cash displaced annually as people adopt digital payments during their daily commutes to work or school or their trips around town to do their shopping.

While we’ve made tremendous inroads into helping PTOs understand the benefits of open-loop contactless payments, this is an exciting opportunity that is ripe for innovation. The lessons we have learned since we have started this journey have helped us understand some of the challenges that cities and transit operators of all sizes face, helping us develop and improve our programme as we head into Year 2. Most importantly:

  • There is strength in partnerships. This point can’t be overstated. While we’ve always known that working together creates a better experience for everyone. We now know that it’s absolutely critical to bring everyone to the table. Including acquirers and issuers, PTOs tech vendors, and enablers. And, because Visa is across all of them, we have found that our role is a critical piece in the puzzle – which is why we have put experts in place around the world.
  • Understand the problem. One of the unique elements that Visa offers in our transit offering is the Visa Ready for Transit programme. While we will give a more in-depth update on the programme in the coming weeks, the advantage that Visa Ready gives us is a clearer understanding of what technology companies are actually solving for. Visa and leading companies such as, Conduent, Cubic, Scheidt&Bachmann, Worldline and Vix work together in a partnership of equals to problem solve and create stronger solutions for PTOs. The Visa Ready program has created a globalised framework so that PTOs and technology companies don’t have to recreate the wheel for each new implementation. Look out for an in-depth update on this programme soon.
  • Focus on the customer journey. Regardless of whether the contactless implementation is for a bus service in a small town or multiple modes of transit in a larger city, the projects that put the customer experience first are the ones that are the most successful. One of our best implementations was in Milan where the city transit provider Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) and Visa worked together to create a customer publicity campaign to celebrate the launch of contactless transit, educating residents and visitors alike in the benefits the new payment system brings to their everyday lives. A number of the adverts were in English, to reflect the importance of international travellers to Milan.
  • Even the most straightforward implementations have their challenges. Projects are always more complex than ‘meets the eye’. That’s why our role as consultants with the PTOs could help everyone. The more operators we work with and the broader our knowledge base, the more we are able to help streamline and simplify the process. For example in Dijon, we were able to leverage our expertise and global experience to help the local payments processor integrate seamlessly into the new payments systems, leading to a better and quicker launch to market.
  • There is no single answer. While we do think that contactless solutions offer an infrastructure for the future, we don’t think that contactless adoption means that closed loop or QR or other solutions must be eliminated. The best way to serve customers is to give them the choices that will fit with the payment methods that they are accustomed to in their region and that fit with their lifestyle. This is why we have built out teams of transit professionals based in regions throughout the Visa network, from Singapore to Dubai, New York to Rio and beyond. No one knows and understands local needs better than the people who live there and use transit daily.

So, as we get ready to embark on a new year, we are excited about what’s on the horizon. Cities are reaching out to us, asking us for more. More advice. More guidance. More perspective. As cities grow, they are trying to find the best, most cost-effective way to address the increasing pressures on their existing infrastructure while also investing in the technologies that will serve them in the future. That is why Visa is also bringing together our experience with our Innovation Center’s Transportation Center of Excellence, our back office team at Cybersource and other experts throughout the company to help cities address the mobility challenges on the horizon.

If you’d like to learn more about the programme or meet with one of our executives, click here.

Cities that launched contactless transit in 2018: Alicante, Spain; Birmingham, UK; Bydgoszc, Poland; Cieszyn, Poland; Cities served by Citylink coach, Scotland; Dijon, France; Gdansk, Poland; Kiev, Ukraine; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Mielec, Poland; Milan, Italy; Moscow, Russia; San Sebastian, Spain; St. Petersburg, Russia; Swidnica, Poland; Sydney, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; Wroclaw, Poland