Visa brings the convenience of contactless payments to public transport
Contactless transit payments quick fire Q&A with Melvin Andrews Joseph of Visa
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.
Thanks for joining us Melvin, can you please introduce yourself?
I have over 13 years of experience in the payment space across Central Europe Middle East and Africa. I joined Visa over 8 years ago and I am now focused on increasing Visa acceptance in Urban Mobility across Middle East and Africa. Visa has helped launch over 60 contactless transit projects in 2019 and is currently working on over 180 projects globally.
What is Visa’s experience in the global shift to contactless?
We launched our first acceptance in public transport in 2010 in Malaysia and have seen rapid engagement since, with contactless ticketing going live in 60 cities in 2019 alone. With more than 180 projects due to go live in 2020 and over 300 urban mobility locations in the pipeline, there is evidence that deployment is escalating.
What is your strategy in the public transport space?
The main strategy is to bring the security and convenience that our cardholders are used into the public transportation space, with speed that is required. In order, to facilitate this we have done a couple of things:
Can you tell us more about Urban Mobility Frameworks?
We had to match the transaction speed of closed loop cards. Authorizing payment on a Visa card can take anywhere between 8-14 seconds, which is not fast enough for commuters and public transport where throughput is a priority. And so, we came up with multiple frameworks aimed at reducing the time to less than half a second to process.
They are based on a model we call deferred authorization, which means you can tap your card and go through without waiting for authorization. Known Fare Transaction is simpler to implement for single mode implementations, whereas Mass Transit Transaction is designed for multi-mode travel with an account-based ticketing platform.
How does the Visa Ready for Transit program work?
Our biggest catalyst to drive contactless banking card implementation in public transport is the Visa Ready for Transit program. It is a certified ecosystem that speeds up the time to market. It offers certification to technology partners and vendors, so transit owners can quickly partner with a trusted solution provider. We now have 218 registered partners on the program and that is growing monthly.
How are you speeding up implementation with your engagement model?
Implementation can be quite complex. I have seen some implementations as quick as 6 weeks and others as long as 2 years. Visa has designed a program lifecycle that maps out a roadmap for each stage to ease the implementation process, from creating your vision through to post-launch.
We see it as a long-term relationship, and we aim to bring our global experience and shared knowledge to facilitate stakeholder management of the ecosystem.
What is the number one driver for implementing contactless?
Ultimately transit authorities want to increase ridership and so you need to offer a good customer experience. One way to do this is to offer as many payment options as possible. Pretty much every agency I have spoken to – whether traditional long-established or new entities starting up – is adopting contactless for customer centric reasons.
Do you think the current situation will accelerate contactless ticketing initiatives?
People are not going to get over the fear of this virus anytime soon and so social distancing and minimizing contact is going to be the new norm. The industry is talking about how they will get people back with stringent hygiene, digitization and connectivity. These are the keywords we are hearing.
Visa has seen a massive increase in all segments globally with surveys confirming that this will continue post-COVID. In the UAE and KSA alone, digital payments are at 60% and 85% respectively. We recently surveyed consumers in these markets, and the use of contactless will continue post COVID-19. We are hearing this regionally and globally.
With regards to public transport specifically, we have 3 transit authorities currently in implementation stage and another 6 in the discovery phase, trying to piece together the project. I see a domino effect, once 1-2 of the main transit authorities move towards contactless, the rest follow.
It can take time for passengers to adopt new technology, how can this be accelerated?
Government authorities are working on getting the payment device in the hands of the people. The learning curve when it comes to using a contactless card is very low – just tap and pay. Adoption across the generations is typically quick.
By 2023, Visa wants all cards and devices to be contactless. We have seen a lot of governments pushing digitalization and I think it is a combination of all these factors that will drive contactless across different merchant segments, and equally so in public and private transport.
A huge thank you to Melvin for giving us a view into his world and for his valuable insight. Hear the full discussion, now available to watch here.