The Future of Mobility: A View from the 2019 UITP

By Nick Mackie, Global Head of Urban Mobility, Visa

When will mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) evolve from being an aspiration to a reality for many cities? Is micro-mobility the cost-effective solution to a very real transportation gap: the first and last mile problem? As we move to a seamless mobility ecosystem with multiple modes of transportation in a single journey, who is ultimately accountable for the passenger and ‘owns’ their experience?

These were just a few of the intriguing questions that were explored at the 2019 UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm, which I attended last month along with a delegation of Visa mobility experts. As the world becomes more urbanised, the conference couldn’t feel timelier. City policy officials from around the world came together to address key urban mobility challenges and the role they play in providing quality of life for the people who live and work in and around cities.

The Evolution of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)

Mobility-as-a-Service, specifically the integration of public and private transportation services managed through a single seamless platform, has been hailed as an ambitious vision. Experts have claimed that, in dense urban environments, MaaS would offer such an improved journey and passenger experience that it could replace the need for many consumers to own private forms of transportation.[i]

While MaaS would provide numerous benefits such as improved efficiency, increased flexibility and generally being better for the environment, moving from a vision of what can be to real world implementation will be decided upon the grounds of how well the industry works together. That is why Visa is partnering with public transportation officers, urban planners, think tanks and technology firms to come together with policy decision makers to harness, implement and integrate the payment network and technology systems necessary to create efficient and seamless customer journeys.

Solving the First and Last Mile Challenge

Journeys used to be about travelling from station to station or city to city. Today, it’s about “door to door”. Designing bus routes and rail networks can – and does – serve untold millions of people on a daily basis. However, the first part of the journey from home to the station and from the station to work or education is still that last challenge to be tackled. Integrating “micro-mobility”, modes of transport that help passengers to get to and from bus and rail stops is no easy feat. Traditionally, most options have been costly and inefficient.

Micro-mobility could be a solution to this problem as bike share, e-scooters and automated people movers are rolling out in cities around the world. Perceived by many as “intuitive mobility” by design — micro-mobility is often faster than car-based journeys. Micro-mobility could theoretically encompass all passenger trips of less than 8 kilometres (5 miles), which account for as much as 50 to 60 percent of today's total passenger miles travelled in China, the European Union, and the United States.[ii]

Importantly, micro-mobility as a form of public transport will encourage an end-to-end journey that relies less on privately-owned vehicles. This will, in turn, create a more seamless city movement experience, and give public transport operators the opportunity to own and be accountable for the customer experience and customer service.

The payment experience remains the key to a connected journey

Yet, no matter how technology evolves and mobility options proliferate, payment choice and the overall payment experience will remain the key to a more comfortable and convenient passenger journey. Payment cannot be separated from mobility: there being an evident correlation between ease of payment and user uptake. Technology advancements in mobile payments and contactless, underpinned by a robust network will help to create a fast, effective and simplified passenger journey experience.

In short: give consumers a simple but great experience and it will be adopted while other solutions fade. Urban sustainability, therefore, counts on companies developing killer UX to solve these very real challenges in an urbanised world.

To learn more about how the Visa Urban Mobility program is improving public transportation, visit our page at:

To find out more about our Future of Transport research here:



[i] Deloitte, The rise of mobility as a service,

[ii] Deloitte, Micromobility’s 15,000-mile checkup,

Tag: Digital commerce