Author: Kevin Phillips
Harnessing the power of digital payment apps to simplify ticket purchases
Rail travel has changed in many ways over the past 25 years. The trains have got cleaner, the stations smarter, and the journey times shorter (well, sort of!) but one thing has not really evolved… the ticket.
Last weekend I accompanied another adult and seven children on a birthday party trip, which involved a train journey. Thinking (correctly!) that I could get the best deal by asking at the ticket office, I was offered a group saver ticket for six of us, with some extras for the other three. I paid by credit card, and then the officer proceeded to print out tickets. One at a time they emerged from the machine… three, four, five… on and on they came. I was amazed that the poor printer hadn’t overheated, when at last, eighteen tickets later, it stopped. Eighteen printed tickets, what was that all about?
Nine passengers, one journey each way per person, makes eighteen. It was at this point, as we rounded up the excited group of twelve-year-olds, including marshalling five of them out of what was probably the last working telephone box in town, that I was struck by the feeling of being in a time warp, back into the last century. This really hasn’t moved on at all, I thought.
Hang on, what about Oyster? I heard the voice of sanity calling from the back somewhere. Well, that doesn’t work as a ticket holder, it’s just a cashless… well, cash. No, that was not the answer.
At the ticket barriers my group saver tickets were not accepted individually, so the nice inspector let us through his wide gate, catching a mere glimpse of the tickets in my hand. On the train, another inspector came along, saw us together and nodded as I waved my wodge of tickets in his general direction.
By the end of the journey, with the party goers safely locked in a room happily firing laser guns at each other, I realised that I knew the solution… my mobile wallet. I replayed the ticketing experience again… I ask for nine tickets, swipe my phone over the NFC reader, and pay with my credit card from my mobile wallet. Payment accepted, the tickets load into my wallet account. At the ticket barriers, I wave my phone over a reader, and in we go. Here comes the ticket inspector; I wave my phone over the reader he carries, and we’re done.
Of course, we need to consider fraud implications in all this, but of the eighteen supposedly one-use tickets I had, I came home with all of them; none had actually been scanned or checked. Tickets please? I want to have a mobile wallet that does all that.