The implementation of open-loop cEMV payments represents an effective way to increase passenger convenience and usability of public transport, while also reducing the costs of ticketing. Innovation is at home in Tallinn, as the city is one of the first capitals in Europe featuring a full transit payment solution since 2018.

In this case study, we outline the needs and advantages identified throughout the development and deployment of cEMV payments in Tallinn. Our Head of Sales, Argo Verk, and Tiit Laiksoo, Head of Ticketing Division at Tallinn Transport Department, explain how ease of use in ticketing enhances both service delivery and customers’ experience across public transport networks.

The goal

A distinctive feature already made Tallinn’s public transport system stand out among its European counterparts – it is free of charge for residents, who can freely access the service by using a closed-loop transit card. However, occasional travellers, mostly tourists and non-residents, would still need to purchase a ticket to use the urban transit  network.

Such downsides of using the closed-loop transit card – despite being the norm, instead, in most European capitals – called for a change in the way users can acquire tickets. “We wanted to reduce driver-driven ticket sales, which are time-consuming and do not allow vehicles to keep to their schedule,” Tiit Laiksoo says. For a city and a country devoted to technological innovation, inefficiency in service delivery could never be part of the equation.

Ridango’s solution for contactless bank cards on public transport represented the best fit for the needs of forward-thinking PT authorities and operators. With the purpose of enhancing ticket purchase channels, decreasing related slowdowns, and making fare collection more effective and dynamic, the solution was a perfect match with the evergreen target of improving service delivery in a smart city like Tallinn.

Set-up and framework

Back in 2014, Ridango took part in Mastercard’s Start Path, a programme dedicated to mature startups in the tech sector presenting innovative solutions, skilful teams, and a strategic fit with Mastercard’s initiatives. It was then that the execution and advantages of contactless payments for public transport became clear. Ridango started looking into an effective way to incorporate and deploy this feature within PT networks and, as in most cases, cooperation with key stakeholders became crucial to the making of a success story.

“No specific legal change was needed, but there was – of course – the necessity to get everyone on board,” Verk explains. A roundtable with the Estonian Ministry of Economics and Telecommunications, representatives of Tallinn Transport Department, but also other cities of Estonia and the banks, became the perfect opportunity to identify targets to reach and challenges to tackle. Aiming to increase efficiency in public transport, Ridango progressively developed and refined all the salient features of a solution whose strongest point had to be one and only – innovation in simplicity.

In August 2018, cEMV payments on public transport were officially launched in Tallinn. Since then, users of Tallinn’s transport network can just wave a Visa or Mastercard labelled contactless bank card to pay for the ride and move from district to district in the Estonian capital, at the best fare available.

The solution

Ridango’s cEMV system, indeed, does not only allow customers to purchase tickets in a fast and comfortable way – and drivers to avoid dealing with coins and pieces of paper. In the framework of a Mass Transit Transaction (MTT) model, this solution enables best fare calculation and payment aggregation too.

“A good example is a fare capping within a day. If a single bank card is used to buy three or more tickets during the same day, the system would make the automatic re-calculation into a daily fare and regardless of the actual number of trips only this daily ticket fare would be charged,” Verk describes. “The uniqueness of such aggregated payment scheme lies in the integration with contactless bank cards, which is still rare and newsworthy in current public transport ticketing landscape context,” Verk says.

In this way, users enjoy the easiest way to access public transport in Tallinn, and the most cost-efficient too. And an advantage for users means higher customer satisfaction in the eyes of service providers. PT authorities and operators, indeed, gain from the implementation of this system in two ways – first, through travellers’ happiness, second, decreasing the likelihood of schedule disruptions and smoothing the tickets roll-out.

Ridango’s cEMV solution was developed with the main goal of breaking down barriers to access public transport, for locals and visitors alike. For the latter, “bank cards are, indeed, the most convenient option to purchase a ticket,” Laiksoo highlights. Visa and Mastercard contactless payments, in a Mass Transit Transaction model, represent the future of ticketing and customer experience in public transport. Innovation allows users to tap their bank card on the validator, and freely enjoy the diversity of a European capital.

Through the effective deployment of information technologies, cities take a leap into the future. With the necessary technical expertise and a bold digital leadership, Ridango helps operators and communities develop the building blocks of future-proof mobility.