Everything Everywhere has announced a deal with Stagecoach to enable near-field communications (NFC) payments on its bus and rail services.
The mobile operator, created from the tie-up between Orange and T-Mobile, claimed the deal to provide mobile touch payments was the first “government-standard” trial in the UK and could lead to a countrywide roll-out as soon as 2013.
The trial, named Quick Tap, has gone live on Stagecoach buses in Cambridgeshire and allows travellers to use their mobile phones as bus tickets, via a specialised mobile application that works with the bus network’s smartcard readers.
To encourage users towards the trial, Everything Everywhere has provided NFC-enabled Orange handsets to participants with the app pre-installed.
Gerry McQuage, Everything Everywhere’s chief marketing officer (CMO), claimed moving from mobile payments on the high street to transport was a natural progression for the company.
“We’re proud to be working with Stagecoach to help bring public transport ticketing into the 21st century and start a trend towards a future where ultimately the traditional paper and card tickets of today will become a thing of the past,” he added.
Clearly the company is putting a lot of cash into the project, but a spokesperson from Everything Everywhere told Computer Weekly: “We will not disclose exact investment figures at this time.”
The technology adheres to stipulations of the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO), which Everything Everywhere said was the preferred choice for the Department of Transport.
The government department is making a huge push towards smart ticketing technology, hoping to make it the most common form of travel within the next two years.
Transport minister Norman Baker, supported the trial, saying: “Smart ticketing makes travelling by public transport easier, quicker and more attractive – that is why we want to get most journeys to be taken using smart ticketing technology by the end of 2014.
“Today’s announcement by Stagecoach is an exciting step forward and I look forward to seeing how the trial progresses.”
Stagecoach itself has been one of the forerunners of smart ticketing, introducing its own smartcard across a number of regions in England, as well as a card to cover South West Train services and Megarider bus journeys from Basingstoke, Hampshire.
“Smartphones are playing an increasingly important role in helping people manage their busy lifestyles and are already used across many areas of life,” said Martin Griffiths, finance director for the Stagecoach group.
“We believe this technology can also make public transport easier and more convenient to use. Once this trial is complete, we will carry out a review of the findings and assess the potential to expand the scheme further for our passengers.”