Uber and Lyft may have had their sights set on disrupting the taxi industry, but they ended up changing consumer expectations for commuting. Frictionless and invisible payment capabilities within an app have created a new niche for fintech companies. Transportation apps with the ability to buy on the go are moving the point of sale away from kiosks and ticketing counters and into a commuter’s pocket.
“To be able to do more digitally and on the move is making people’s lives more efficient,” said Jonathan Donovan, head of product at Masabi, a software company specializing in mobile transportation ticketing. “The Uber and Lyft style mobile commerce is becoming a basic expectation in other areas of transportation.”
Masabi’s cloud based software solution JustRide brings payment functionality to public transportation apps. Merchants and travel providers connect their existing apps to the JustRide API.
Incorporating an app with a solution like JustRide benefits both the merchants and consumers. Transit authorities can run customer management through the JustRide back office, including reporting, refunds, and validation. There are also integrations for Masterpass and Apple Pay that allow consumers to purchase tickets with mobile wallets. Since users can manage their rail cards online, travelers don’t have to be paranoid about knowing where their rail cards are at all times, eliminating the annoyance of reporting a lost card (something I experienced firsthand while living in New York City).
Along with better customer management, more data and user information helps transit authorities better understand how travelers behave. And since POS hardware is in a customer’s pocket, maintenance costs, like purchase as many paper tickets or emptying kiosks of cash, drop.
Masabi’s most established U.S. partnership is with Boston’s MBTA. Over half the tickets sold in Boston are through the JustRide app integration. Cost savings have allowed the MBTA to reinvest $70 million into other investments.
Masabi’s recent partnership with the New York MTA has created a lot of buzz. Commuters traveling on the Metro North and LIRR railways can now purchase tickets through the JustRide integration on the MTA eTix app.
Since the deal with the MTA went live, there have been 600 thousand ticketing transactions, a nice start for a new market.
MasterCard and Kiolis recently invested in the company. MasterCard’s global presence helps Masabi with payment facilitation, like the continued integration of Masterpass. Keolis is one of the largest French transportation groups with rails, buses, and airport services, and a new deal to bring mobile ticketing to over 70 French cities is already in development.
Donavan views the partnership with Keolis as a blueprint for future partnerships, moving into trip planning platforms with payment functionality.
“The expectations of riders are increasing as more functionality is entering into the sector. Mobile ticketing integration into trip planners is making the travel process digital. Reserving a shared bike, buying a train ticket, and finding a cab from one location isn’t that far away,” he concluded.