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Smartphone support by transit agencies now a service imperative say Cubic as it launches NextWave white label mobile platform

Citing survey results showing a very strong correlation between transit ridership profiles and market segments having higher proportion of smartphone ownership, Cubic Transportation Systems has launched a service for transport operators to provide more seamless ticketing and information services to their customers - using their mobile phones.

Cubic's NextWave Mobile Business System is a 'white label' platform that enables operators to rapidly and securely provide new mobile services to their customers such as for contactless payment using NFC technology, recharging smart cards using smartphones and managing payments. 

The company, who claim to be the world’s largest processor of payment transactions for the transit industry, is to demonstrate the service at the American Public Transport Association Annual Meeting, today in Chicago.


NextWave makes mobiles into smart cards via NFC

NextWave is designed so transit agencies can quickly introduce an agency-branded mobile app backed by a number of cloud-based support services that:

  • Uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to turn a mobile phone into a contactless fare card, reducing the reliance on physical card distribution.
  • Enables mobile fare purchases by turning NFC enabled mobile phones into the equivalent of a ticket vending machine that can re-load contactless transit cards in real time
  • Offers customer support through mobile self-services, including managing all fare purchases; reviewing balances, transactions and fare charges; and receiving notifications about account status and usage
  • Helps travellers plan journeys and receive alerts about travel conditions
  • Generates new revenues by leveraging advertising and mobile marketing opportunities.


Designed to make it easier for operators to introduce smartphone transit capabilities

NextWave is designed to make it easier for operators to introduce smartphone capabilities by providing a cloud-based platform that integrates with both 'closed-' and 'open-loop' contactless fare systems, payment processors, mobile networks, NFC platforms, and both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

According to said David deKozan, vice president, strategic initiatives, Cubic Transportation Systems, "Our existing agreements with mobile network operators, a cloud-based delivery model and off-the-shelf mobile service capabilities make this a game changer”. 

“NextWave can help transit agencies get mobile services to market fast at a fraction of the cost associated with dedicated systems. At the same time, they are putting into place a solid foundation for the future that enables them to progressively move from conventional NFC fare processing to collaborative partnerships with mobile payment, NFC access and mobile marketing initiatives poised for broad industry adoption.”

Cubic say that during a two month trial of NextWave, participants were able to purchase fares, check card balances and find travel and transaction histories directly through interaction with a mobile app running on both Apple and Android devices. The NextWave system provided connectivity into to the agency’s back office effectively making the mobile phone an integrated terminal on the fare system network equivalent to in-station vending machines and card validators on buses.

Cubic has previously demonstrated NFC transit fare applications transit with customers in San Francisco, Frankfurt, London, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The company has also deployed contactless smartcard technology and its NextBus is also a leading provider of bus and train arrival alerts, also delivered on mobile phones.


Mobile support by transit agencies now a service imperative

The need for transit agencies to offer services to smartphone users has been highlighted by a survey conducted in June by Pew Research reporting that more than 91% of the adult US population has a cell phone and more than 58% of these are now smartphones. This has grown from 46% during the period extending from February 2012 to May 2013. Further survey results indicate a very strong correlation between transit ridership profiles and market segments having higher percentages of smartphone ownership.

Solid foundation for the future equals alternatives to NFC

Cubic's claim that NextWave will enable operators "to progressively move from conventional NFC fare processing to collaborative partnerships with mobile payment, NFC access and mobile marketing initiatives poised for broad industry adoption" may be intended to cover the circumstance where NFC payment fails to become the dominant payment method for ticketless transport.

This appears now more likely as both Apple and Paypal are supporting an alternative iBeacons combined with Bluetooth Low Power communication technology.

Apple's new iOS7 operating system allows support for iBeacons for accurate sensing technology on most iPhone models but is yet to reveal what applications will result.

The latest iPhone 5s model introduced this month, for the first, offers fingerprint security that could in future be used to validate payment solutions, and for some time it has offered its Passbook ticketing app, although this has also not so far been widely adopted for transport ticketing.

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