Sustainable Development Today Digital payment makes bus travel easier
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Digital payment makes bus travel easier

Public transport has been touted as the perfect vehicle for putting digital payments on the map and slowly but surely, schemes are being rolled out across Europe. First Bus' latest adoption of Barclays' Pingit is just the latest affirmation of the future of mobile money.

FirstGroup's announcement of its adoption of Barclays Pingit across its network- its wide-reaching network, is great news for digital money movers. The m-ticketing is not exclusive to Barclays, customers can purchase tickets with any debit or credit card and FirstGroup is open to any such mobile payment option.

The mobile ticketing launch began in FirstGroup's headquarters city Aberdeen and also in Worcester in March 2014. First Cymru and First Scotland East concluded the roll out on 3rd November. Probably the second largest bus operator in Britain after Stagecoach, it operates around a fifth of bus services outside London and its fleet of 6,400 buses carries roughly 1.6m passengers a day across 40 of the UK's largest towns and cities and also runs the Air Coach service in Dublin. That's reaching out to quite a customer base.

Hopefully it will implement this across its rail network also. FirstGroup runs every sort of railway- long distance, regional, commuter and sleeper. And then there's its Greyhound operation in the US. The potential to take digital payments to a whole new level of adoption is far-reaching indeed.

London is blazing a trail for NFC and prepaid with its contactless EMV transport initiative according to Visa Europe. The scheme has proved popular and very useful for Londoners.

Having started with EMV contactless on London buses over a year ago, in September 2014 it was rolled out across the transport network to include the underground, overground, overland, DLR and tram services.

Visa Europe's head of prepaid, Greg Sheppard, speaking at a European prepaid summit in Milan in November, went so far as to predict TfL's new payment system would be the test case for Europe, as it plans to remove the proprietary Oyster system by 2018 and replace it with an EMV system" which is likely to be a prepaid product opportunity".

What better way to integrate a payment system into people's lives than public transport, especially in a capital city? Something in the region of 24m journeys are made every day on the TfL network, and if the payment system is fast and seamless, it will encourage adoption elsewhere in their daily routine of purchases.

In Italy, a similar scheme is gradually being rolled out across three cities: Napoli, Bologna and Ravena, on a SIM-based NFC system provided by SIA Group. These cities may not be the size of London but imagine being able to use the same Oyster, NFC card or m-ticket options as you travel between your country's cities, on any mode of transport. That would be something to travel for.

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