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Unicard deploys contactless rail travel with Transport for Wales

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Unicard’s Ticketing Hub solution enables contactless card payment and ensures best fares on train services in Wales as Unicard expands UK footprint.

Unicard LTD, an established provider of smart ticketing and payment solutions to the public and commercial transport sector, today announced the deployment of its Ticketing Hub platform with Transport for Wales (TfW). Enabling contactless EMV card payments on selected train routes and services in Wales, as well as processing payments and ensuring passengers pay the best available fare.

The Unicard Ticketing Hub platform has enabled TfW to become the first UK train operator outside of London to deploy contactless EMV services. The contactless EMV rollout will begin with a pilot scheme running between Newport, Cardiff and Pontyclun. There are plans for a phased expansion of the service to the South Wales Metro area next year.

Unicard Ticketing Hub is an integration platform designed to orchestrate several third-party systems. It allows customers to use a payment card or mobile device to tap in and out on validators on rail platforms, or gates at ticket barriers, at the start and end of every train journey.

Unicard Ticketing Hub receives and processes these taps, sending them to iBlocks Account Based Ticketing Back Office, which calculates the value of each trip, taking into account customers’ travel patterns and behaviour. Unicard then ensures accurate and secure payment based on the overall journey. Importantly, unlike other contactless EMV card solutions, Ticketing Hub is agnostic to the card reader used. The Unicard solution is multi-modal and multi-operator and means scheme administrators can mix equipment within a single deployment.

Speaking about the deployment Sean Dickinson, CEO of Unicard, said: “The Unicard team in East Kilbride worked very closely with TfW to implement this service. A significant amount of hard work went into this project, culminating in a solution that enables contactless payments for rail passengers while guaranteeing the best fare. Passengers no longer need to queue for tickets, apply for a travel card or change their ticket if their plans change. They can simply use their bank card or payment app on their mobile device to catch a train and enjoy the convenience of contactless travel.”

Sean added: “At launch, the Ticketing Hub solution will initially be available to passengers using selected train services out of Newport, Cardiff and Pontyclun. It’s a scalable solution that can be extended to support contactless payments across other modes of transport, like trams and buses. TfW has delivered a proven model for other UK regions looking to rollout a best-value travel experience for their passengers. Unicard is very proud to be part of the first deployment of contactless card payment tap in and tap out functionality on rail outside of London. We’re looking forward to helping other customers achieve their transport objectives at a faster pace than was previously thought possible.”

Unicard acquired smart transport ticketing and payment solutions specialists Ecebs from Visa in August 2023. Prior to this, Ecebs had been working with TfW on implementing the Ticketing Hub solution, but activities were paused as a result of the pandemic. Post-COVID, work has resumed on the platform’s development and third-party integration. The service has now reached the testing phase and a live pilot scheme has recently been launched to test its capability and functionality before it is rolled out across Wales.

Unicard’s solutions have been adopted by over 80 Local and Regional Authorities in England, Scotland and now Wales. Following the Ecebs acquisition it has added Transport for London (TfL) and Transport for Wales (TfW) to a list that includes Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Transport Scotland and Solent Transport, as well as smart ticketing back office and ticket retail services for Rail Delivery Group.

More details about the solution will be shared at the Smartex TCF23 event in Liverpool on the 26th and 27th of September.

Image credit: iStockphoto.com

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