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Next stop: Smart City

Kate Pelikh Jul 14, 2020 5:50:27 PM
Next stop: Smart City

The Covid-19 pandemic has an impact on everyone’s daily habits and it won't just be in the short term. The impact it has on businesses has led to new policies being enforced to limit physical contact and face-to-face interaction. While organisations are adapting, the investment into new technologies is pouring with more support for mobile and contactless interactions.

Not only businesses are adapting to the new norm, cities and their transport networks, which are often associated with ‘crowd’, are forced to bridge to digital and quickly drive a shift in the way we commute, worldwide.

Public Research from Statista and PWC shows the following:

  • The APAC being at the epicentre of this epidemic suffered a greater decrease in public transport, which according to Beijing Transport, will recover only to 25-50% of its previous volumes.
  • 57% of US respondents said that they will less likely use public transport during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Research from PwC found that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on businesses' strategy and outlook across the globe.
  • 63% of LATAM CFOs say they are planning to accelerate automation and new ways of working, 20% more than the global average. Meanwhile, 71% of CFOs from LATAM region say their business will be more agile after the experience.
Transforming public transport

One area where we can see the impact of these changes is in public transport, where reducing the amount of physical contact has never been more critical. As a result, contactless payments are experiencing a considerable drive. But this isn't just about Covid-19. Contactless payments offer a wide range of benefits beyond hygiene. They are also crucial in enabling a more prominent trend for making public transport more mobile and convenient for customers. After all, contactless payments are faster, more reliable and require less effort from the customer than cash. 

Globally, this evolution is already happening. The market for automated fare collection (AFC) is predicted to reach $13.48bn by 2025, 51% higher than just two years ago. Contactless smartcards that link to a specific transport operator (closed-loop) are currently the preferable fare method. But for how long? While any form of contactless payment saves time compared to cash, closed-loop payments have an obvious limit – they have one use.

The payments market is rapidly expanding. Open-loop payment methods such as contactless bank card, banking apps and mobile wallets continue to grow in popularity. They offer the additional benefit of being a single payment solution for the entire city, from the bus to the tollgate, parking and shopping. 


The benefits of open-loop payments aren't just for the customer; they also provide more significant advantages to service operators and authorities. O-CITY, an innovative automated fare collection platform, is the perfect partner for cities entering the next phase of digital transformation. O-CITY's single platform can host an ecosystem of partners – from transport operations and municipalities to public transport regulators – to manage the payment experience.  

With digital payments more easily trackable across the whole city, local authorities and service operators can begin to use this information to gain invaluable insights into traffic and commuter management. A rider who 'taps in' on the bus is also providing valuable information into how many people are on that bus and how busy that route is. This insight, in turn, could help bus operators to plan their routes based on traffic and can help passengers decide which route to take. Government authorities have the potential to use this insight to further improve the experience for residents and visitors. In one integrated app, commuters could get access to journey tracking information, routes and access to real-time updates.


Barcelona, Spain, Improvement and Optimisation of Parking Usage

A tourist hot spot and a widely populated city, Barcelona decided to improve and optimise the use of parking spaces to reduce the congestion of inner-city roads and strengthen accessibility for public transport and pedestrians. Creating an integrated system of both on-street and off-street parking with improved, modern payment methods, Barcelona was able to decrease the total number of parking places by almost 20% and increase the off-street portion of parking supply by 80%. The results lead to improved traffic and increased availability of public transport, while the level of tourism has doubled. 

Ireland, nationwide

The transformation to Smartcity is never done in one day. Ireland, having a closed-loop transport card, is a perfect example of moving development forward. In 2019, the National Transport Authority decided to implement account-based ticketing model instead of a closed-loop environment to have unified access for bus, rail, light-rail networks. The initiative allowed commuters to have a more accessible and safer journey through the multi-modal environment and extended the number of payment methods to bank cards, mobile phones, QR-codes and ID passport cards to pay for public transport usage.

Next stop: smart city

The trends suggest that the number of paper tickets will continue to diminish, and the usage among cities is expected to drop on 27% by 2025 as according to Global Mass Transit data. The same future is projected for contactless smart cards, which are only a transition tool towards true open-loop account-based ticketing. 

The recent launches of mobile, QR-code and bank card projects in Australia Sydney, Brazil Grande Goiania, India Mumbai, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan and others are a proof to that. The adoption of the AFC system and digitalisation of public transportation services is a wide-spread exercise. With growing mobile phones penetration, more than 30 cities across LATAM region already adopted AFC system. They improved the availability of services to the population, who can now a large variety of payment methods, including mobile phones and bank cards easily. 

To find out more about O-CITY's service, please go to

About O-CITY

Founded in 2018 and adopted by more than 100 cities worldwide, O-CITY is an innovative automated fare collection solution designed by BPC, a leading banking and payment firm with more than 230 clients across more than 80 countries. O-CITY was born from the vision of digitalising micro-payments as a critical driver of a cashless economy while improving the well-being of citizens. With O-CITY, government, public transport operators and merchants can deliver a frictionless payment experience at every touchpoint leveraging smart, digital and open technologies. (tollgate, bus, train, subway, parking facility, bike rental or city tourist attraction). Citizens can move freely and make quick payments using their mobile or existing bank card, removing the need for cash or queuing at a ticket counter.