9 September 2021

Beyond the buzzwords: what is smart mobile ticketing | FAIRTIQ

Beyond the buzzwords: what is smart mobile ticketing | FAIRTIQ

Beyond the buzzwords: what is smart mobile ticketing

You might or might not have heard of Check-in/Check-out mobile ticketing, CIBO or ticketing-as-a-service. This article aims to go beyond the buzzwords to explain what Smart Mobile Ticketing is. 

In short: what FAIRTIQ is all about. 


FAIRTIQ is where Automated Fare Collection meets Mobile Ticketing. An explanation...


Two legacy systems

Automated fare collection (AFC) is the typical ticketing system in large metropolitan areas around the world such as Singapore, London or New York. With AFC, the fare is calculated through one or several interactions between the user smart card and readers at stations or in vehicles. At validation, the fare is deducted from their card-wallet (stored value) or account (ABT, open loop).

Example: in Singapore, a commuter taps-in when entering the bus & taps-out when exiting the bus. The fare depends on the distance travelled. 

Advantage: User-simplicity, no fare-knowledge needed.

Disadvantage: Very expensive to install, operate and maintain. Low flexibility. In distance-based systems, users often forget to tap out and get charged the maximum fare, leading to expensive customer care interactions. 


Mobile ticketing started around 10 years ago, when smartphones started to enable online payment. To purchase a ticket, the users have to specify the origin and destination. The ticket is then purchased ahead of the journey. 

Example: in France, the Oui.sncf app enables pre-paid ticket purchases. The passengers has to select and purchase their tickets ahead of the journey.

Advantage: High flexibility (software solution), enables the reduction of ticket vending machines). Users can buy tickets from home.

Disadvantage: Longer ticket purchase, pre-travel ticket purchase. Operators must choose between a simple but reduced offering, or a complete, but confusing offering. The mobile app’s account is either standalone and the customer needs to maintain funds in two places, or it is integrated and the integration can be complex. 


The best of both worlds

In 2015, the founders of FAIRTIQ reflected on “How might we leverage mobile technologies to offer the comfort of AFC, with the flexibility of mobile, at a fraction of the cost?” That’s how FAIRTIQ was invented & how it is possible to do AFC without external validation. 

With a conventional AFC system, the origin and destination is determined based on the location of the reader. FAIRTIQ uses the location of the user’s smartphone. 

This is what we call Smart Mobile Ticketing & this how the magic works .


Beyond the simplicity of use for the public transport commuters,  the solution comes with a lot of benefits for public transport operators:

  • No hardware AFC
    • Reduced costs and complexity
    • Accelerated implementation
    • No vendor lock-in - multiple solutions can cohabitate to meet different customer needs
    • Easy to pilot over a brief period to test the technology and new fares
    • Speeds up implementation of all-door boarding
  • Possibility to capture origins and destinations without requiring tapping out, enabling much more fare flexibility (peak-/off-peak, loyalty, capping, route and location-based pricing…) and rich origin-destination data
  • Fare media is only required for ticket inspection purposes. FAIRTIQ typically remains flexible and can adapt to local requirements (visual, QR codes or other technologies).


How about the other buzzwords

“Ticketing-as-a-Service”: instead of a one-time lock-in purchase, the ticketing solution evolves with technology. The cost of development is shared among operators (e.g. a new feature is developed one time & available for all clients once released). The business model is simple: the provider generally gets a monthly retainer on the tickets sold.

“CIACO”: Check-In Assisted Check-Out is the original technology supported by FAIRTIQ. To travel, the users require a manual activation. The app then reminds them to check-out.

“CIBO”: Check-In Be-Out is the newest available feature of FAIRTIQ, called Smart Stop: the system automatically detects the end of the journey and stops the trip automatically.