Spanish train company launch m-ticketing

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Spanish train operating company RENFE is to trial a new system of mobile ticket purchasing in conjunction with mobile operator Vodafone. Passengers will be able to pay for fares using specially equipped handsets which can be read by on-platform NFC equipment.

According to a statement from RENFE, the system will be put on trial at suburban stations before rolling it out further. The pilot scheme in Spain follows the successful introduction of similar systems in Japan, writes BWCS.

The Spanish train company said that it has started trialling the service in Bilbao in Asturias, where some 15,000 mobile users have suitable handsets. In January of this year the Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK completed a mobile phone ticketing trial using the government-mandated ITSO – interoperable smartcard standard. The six month trial was held in the north-west of England and involved two separate bus companies. However, only a relatively small number of passengers were included in the pilot scheme. The 36 regular travellers who participated in the trial used NFC-enabled mobile phones to pay for their tickets.

In December last year, mobile application developer Masabi announced a new system for paying for rail tickets via mobile phones (MPW 103, 125). Masabi said its service is based on an agreement it has with the Rail Settlement Plan, set up by the Association of Train Operating Companies. The new national standard allows customers to pay for their train journey by simply sending a text. They will also be able to purchase a single ticket, even if they use more than one train company during their journey.

According to a market study recently released by Juniper Research within five years, one in every six mobile customers will own an NFC-enabled device. This, the company argues will allow them to conduct small-scale transactions using their mobile phones.

Juniper believes that payments and retail transactions will combine to transform the phone into a payment tool used at ticket machines, vending machines and also at retail outlets.

In April of this year credit card giant Visa announced the launch of its first commercial NFC mobile payments system. The technology uses stored credit card details on a mobile device which are read by POS terminals. The company said, at the time, that its system was the first to allow consumers to be able to purchase NFC-enabled mobile devices off the shelf and use the devices to make Visa payWave-enabled transactions at the POS, instead of using their payment card.