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What is Required to use EMV as a Token in Transit?

Exploring the customer journey for EMV as a token and the business and technical decisions that must be made in order to grow this concept to a commercial implementation.

The core business of a Public Transport Authority (PTA) or Public Transport Operator (PTO) is transporting customers from A to B. PTAs/PTOs may own and maintain a closed loop payment scheme in order to be paid for the services provided to customers. The customers must interact with the payment system, using a separate transit card, in order to pay. However, many customers already have a contactless EMV1 card in their wallet issued by their bank. If they could use this to pay for the services it would significantly lower the hurdle for customers to use public transport. That is why open payments in ticketing (also known as EMV in transit) are interesting to PTOs/PTAs.

Using bank cards for payments in ticketing have already been implemented in different places. This is typically done using one of the following methods which link the payment directly to the card usage:

  • Retail model; For fixed price fare payments before starting travel
  • Transit model; For when the fare is unknown at the start of travel

However, a 3rd option also exists, EMV as an identity token. In such a system the EMV card is used only as an identifier that points to the customer’s digital identity and not to directly perform the payment. The main advantage of using EMV as a token instead of directly as a payment means is that it allows the use of fare products and travel tickets. Additionally the required equipment potentially has less security and certification requirements.

As part of the European Travellers Club (ETC) project, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program, UL and Accept Institute wrote a white paper to describe what EMV as a token means in the context of transit payments and further explain how this system works and could be implemented.

Download your copy here.


EMV transit