15-Sep-2016 11:30:00
by James Gooch

What is Account Based Ticketing?

Most traditional transport ticketing systems are ‘Card Centric.’ This means the travel information and the right to travel on public transport is stored on or in the ticket. This is the same for magstripe paper or smartcard ticketing systems.


These ‘Closed-Loop’ systems, where the fare media is supplied by the transport provider, have been around for years and provide a robust solution in which transactions are primarily stored on the card and only secondarily in the readers and then in the local and/or central back-offices.


In recent years, thanks to advances in communications technologies, innovative transport providers have launched new transit ticketing systems that allow passengers to use contactless cards, mobile phones, wearables, or other IDs to travel.


These new technologies allow for ‘Open-Loop’ and ‘Account-Based’ systems. They provide a greater degree of convenience for passengers than ‘closed-loop’ and cash based ticketing systems, while saving transport providers money.


Account Based Ticketing is defined by the Smartcard Alliance as: “The transit fare collection system architecture that uses the back office system to apply relevant business rules, determine the fare, and settle the transaction.”


Essentially right to travel is managed by the central back office and the ‘ticket’ the passenger has acts as a 'token' or proof of the right to travel and identifier of a customer’s account - hence, Account-Based. The back office stores the tokens usage patterns and also settles the transaction (based on usage). As such, the back office is the primary source of truth, unlike in a Card Centric system where, as described above, it is the card.


Because of this, passengers are able to use what they have in their pocket to travel, be it an cEMV contactless bank card, smartcard, phone or a smart wearable and the payment will link with their ‘account’ residing in the back office. This means passengers no longer need to buy a ticket or understand fares to travel, safe in the knowledge they will be charged 'best fare'; for their journey.


Account Based Ticketing systems are also better placed to take advantage of the advances in technology to run and scale more efficiently, with the back-offices often being managed from the ‘Cloud’.


For the transport provider the benefits are significant. With legacy Card Centric systems, transport providers have to act as a local currency, exchanging cash or card payment for a ticket to travel. These paper or smartcard systems are expensive to install and expensive to operate and update.


Account Based Ticketing allows transport providers to move to ‘open loop’ system (open tokens such as contactless bank cards) and away from the cost of issuing physical ticket media and the cost of handling cash.


Mobile ticketing can operate both as a traditional proof of payment style ticket (data on the ticket - suitable for last minute tickets) and also enable Account Based ticketing (static token & data primarily in the back office), allowing you to feed in and experiment with account based products as you move to full Account Based Ticketing.


Further reading:



An Introduction to Account Based Ticketing-1



About Masabi’s Justride Platform
Masabi is bringing Fare Payments-as-a-Service to public transit agencies of all sizes around the globe. Through our Fare Payments platform, Justride, transport agencies and operators in cities of all sizes receive the latest ticketing innovations quickly, using a platform which is constantly updating and adding new features. This not only improves the journey experience for passengers but also helps transport agencies keep up with the pace of technology change while reducing the total cost of fare collection, meaning more money can be put back into running transport services.

With over seventy clients of all sizes across eleven countries, Justride is the world's leading Fare Payments platform, serving the largest transit agency in the US to local bus operators. Justride is currently processing over a billion dollars in fare revenue annually and helping enable more than ten million journeys a month.

Transit agencies and operators can sign up to mobile ticketing services, enable Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and deploy an account-based ticketing system allowing passengers to simply tap a contactless bank card, mobile device and smartcard to travel, without needing to buy a ticket or understand fares.

Written by James Gooch

Head of Marketing at Masabi.
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