Tap in tap out. Hop on hop off. Making it easier to buy and easier to travel with contactless payments.

Contactless transit payments quick fire Q&A with Mike Burden of Burden Consulting Ltd

Did you join our recent webinar GO CONTACTLESS: Keep your drivers and passengers safe? Not to worry if you missed it, you can watch it on-demand or catch the quick fire Q&A interviews with our panelists in a snappy 10 minute read.


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Here we bring you Mike Burden, Director of Burden Consulting Ltd.


Thanks for joining us Mike, can you please introduce yourself?

I specialize in the automatic fare collection and road user charging markets and set up my own consultancy 10 years ago. I have worked on projects in Europe, Asia and America, developing technology strategies and solutions for intelligent transport systems, electronic toll collection and automatic fare collection systems.


So, why go contactless?

The biggest driver is convenience. Most authorities want to improve the customer experience, making it easier to buy a ticket and easier to travel.

It is convenient for people to use something they already have or is easy for them to get, like a bank card or mobile phone. It is so simple to tap in and tap out. If you arrive in a new city you can just hop on and travel, if you are local you can make use of fare capping and other discounts without having to get a prepaid card.

In the current environment of COVID, passengers do not need to interact with the driver if using a totally contactless solution, making it easier for the driver and more secure with less interactions.

Other reasons include reducing operational costs, reducing fraud, driving revenues and delivering mobility as a service. In the current climate, as we are seeing vast reduction in car travel because of lockdown, we have seen a great improvement in air quality and countries are looking into ways we can maintain some of these gains by moving people across to different forms of mobility in the future.


Do you think the future is completely contactless?

No. We have talked about removing cash from the system, however in a lot of places some people want to use cash. You need to keep these payment methods in place because public transport needs to be open to everyone, you cannot create any barriers.


What contactless payment technology trends are you seeing in transit?

I am seeing lots of technology appear, I do not believe there will be one solution that dominates, there will be lots of solutions available across a city. We will see:

There is quite a range of trends appearing across the industry, it is a very active sector with a lot of movement, many following behind London and learning from that:

One of the obvious advantages of an open payments approach versus closed loop is removing the cost associated with issuing cards and the infrastructure for topping up. This was part of the business case for TfL – they wanted to remove the expense of issuing and maintaining Oyster Cards.


Do you think current situation will accelerate contactless ticketing initiatives?

Authorities need to understand what the future of travel will look like and how it can adapt. Public transport will have a significant role to play and technology will underpin everything. Thanks to technology, a lot of people are discovering that they can work from home and this could continue beyond COVID. But not everyone can own a car and people will still travel to meet face-to-face.

With distancing in play for the foreseeable future, public transport will need to examine the frequency and number of buses to understand what is viable, together with a migration towards mobility as a service. More people will be considering other mobility modes, such as bicycles and scooters, and having a solid payment infrastructure as the foundation will help deliver some of that. There is a lot of think about because things will be different when we go back, but what that looks like I do not know yet.


Where should an agency start when it comes to contactless transit?

With a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Do you want to replace what you currently have for short term gains or a long-term solution to support mobility as a service? Also, what problem are you trying to solve? What is the best solution to that problem?

Talk to as many people in the market as you can, people who have done it before. Talk to vendors about what they are developing. Talk to other authorities about the issues they experienced and how they got around them, what would they do differently if they did it again?


What advice would you offer when implementing a system?

Implementing contactless EMV networks comes with a fair degree of complexity. It is more than just a technology project, involving an ecosystem of stakeholders through a complex program of change.

Also, you cannot take a solution from one city and just drop it into another, there are too many differences in the local environment in terms of structure, policies, standards, regulations and so on. There is no one size fits all, which makes contactless projects challenging but interesting from a delivery point of view.


It can take time for passengers to adopt new technology, how can this be accelerated?

We have seen strong contactless uptake. Younger generations do not carry wallets, they run their lives from a phone and so adoption is fast in this segment. Older people are adaptable. They usually get concessionary travel and you can make the fare on one form factor more beneficial for them and encourage usage.

In London, TfL customers did not want to transfer money into transit currency just to travel, they can buy everything else on their bank card and so why not travel on public transport with it? This logic is starting to gain some traction in other places. The challenge is countries where bank accounts are not prevalent and so cash payment still needs to be offered, I do not think cash will ever go away.

A huge thank you to Mike for giving us a view into his world and for his valuable insight. Hear the full discussion, now available to watch here.


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If you would like to know how we can help you on your journey to contactless payments please get in contact, would are always happy to share our experience with you.

Posted 10th August 2020 By