16-Dec-2008 18:55:31
by Tom Godber

UK Rail Agrees Mobile Ticketing Standard

- Masabi, the secure mobile applications company, today announced that working in conjunction with the Rail Settlement Plan (RSP), the rail ticketing body jointly owned by UK train operating companies and the rail operators themselves, it has developed a new standard for secure barcode rail ticketing. The new open standard allows all mobile ticketing schemes to use a common secure barcode system, and also to be able to start accepting a single mobile ticket on a journey involving multiple rail operators.

To date, all rail mobile ticketing systems have used the web to sell a restricted selection of advance tickets using proprietary standards. The approval of RSPS3001, the UK-wide standard is the first step toward being able to use mobile tickets and print-at-home tickets on many different rail operators for everyday walk-up tickets which represent the vast majority of sales.

“With Masabi’s help,” said RSP’s Mostafa Gulam, “we have been able to bring down the cost of implementation and raise the functionality of the system in ways we had not thought possible.”

The Achilles heel of any digital mass transit system is how it copes when things go wrong, and when the internet, database or server connections have failed. The new barcodes contain enough ticket and security information to allow off-line systems to scan and validate tickets with similar security to the Oyster smart card system used in London. This allows the system to operate as an islanded system on vehicles or on hand held terminals in the event of system disconnection, and still process millions of tickets quickly and conveniently.

Mike Short, President of the Mobile Data Association, said: “The trend towards paperless ticketing benefits both the passenger and rail industry as a whole; it makes travel more convenient and environmentally sustainable. Mobile phones have become the most inclusive digital device that we carry today, secure mobile bar codes offer a clear pathway towards an increasingly cash free society. Other innovations may follow, but this landmark RSP decision shows a clear way forward to serve mobile customers anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”

Masabi builds transport ticketing systems for mobile, and has already delivered systems together with Atos Origin to provide services for National Express and Heathrow Express and also with YourRail for Chiltern Railways – the first UK rail operator to pioneer mobile ticketing. Masabi’s latest applications allow travellers to both buy and display tickets from their handsets, finally allowing the mobile to reduce rush hour queues at the station, even if the traveller only thinks about purchasing as they arrive at the departure station. By removing the need for users to sign-up or remember any usernames or passwords, early users of Masabi’s ticket sales applications have described the purchase process as “better than the web”, and thanks to the new RSP ticket standards, this can start to enable the everyday ticket purchases, not just providing an alternative delivery mechanism for the 12% of tickets purchased on the web.

“It's great that RSP has now produced this new standard, but the hard work now falls to the Rail Operators to roll out systems supporting this standard, and agreeing to share tickets on routes with other barcode ready operators,” said Ben Whitaker, COO of Masabi. “Only when consumers can buy everyday walk-up tickets on the mobile will the real operator savings and consumer convenience of mobile
ticketing be realised.”

About Masabi

Masabi is a secure mobile applications developer based in the UK. Its EncryptME system security system has been validated by BT and certified by NIST, the US Government's security standards body. In line with the latest web security standards EncryptME provides end-to-end security for all mobile communications by SMS, GPRS, NFC and local data storage on all Java-enabled handsets. The company’s expertise in secure, usable mobile applications which run on even the lowest specification phone handsets is currently being used in a range of mobile commerce, ticketing, casino and financial applications. Masabi is owned by its directors, won the IET Security Award in 2007, was a runner up in the “True Mobile Start-Up” category at Mobile Innovation Global Awards in 2008 and was selected as a finalist for the Red Herring 100 Europe.

About RSP

Rail Settlement Plan (RSP), part of ATOC, provides central retail support services to the UK Train Operating Companies (TOCs). This includes the distribution of fares and timetable data, the provision of other retail information to all National Rail retailers and the allocation and settlement of rail revenue to operators. RSP procures these services on behalf of the TOCs and manages their operation by third party suppliers. As all are outsourced to large systems integrators and service operator companies like Atos Origin, Fujitsu, Thales and Capgemini, its staff is small and turnover only £30m, but it is responsible overall for the annual allocation of £6 billion of UK passenger rail revenue monies.

Media Contacts for Masabi

Nick Dillon

Temono - Telecoms PR


+44 (0)7725 761 450

Written by Tom Godber