Mobile & Online Payments

ITSO, ISAM, Open Loop, and dominating city centres in the next five years

ITSO, ISAM, Open Loop, and dominating city centres in the next five years. Image by WasiliyMay,
Written by John Elliott

Technology that’s dominating now will dominate in five years’ time, because of the slow speed at which the industry moves. John Elliott talks ITSO, ISAM and Open Loop.

On 25 January 2017, I moderated a panel discussion at Transport Ticketing Global 2017 entitled ‘Which public transport technology solution will be dominating city centres in the next five years?’.

On the morning of the event, I got together with the panellists to consider how the discussion might go. I start to think about my experience of the past as a proxy for the future. Past performance is no guarantee of the future, I know, but my mind races:

In the 1990s, things started to move from paper and plastic tokens to smart card-based solutions. ITSO was born. In 2005, we worked with ITSO and the DfT to assess the suitability of ITSO for a national travel e-purse. We were asked by the DfT to help develop Part 11 of the ITSO specification in order that ITSO could be made more suitable to an online world and not require every reader to contain an ISAM (ITSO Secure Application Module).

In 2005, we worked with DfT to help them understand how their planned new smart ID card and driving licence might be used to modernise life for citizens in the UK. In 2007, we worked with the DVLA on its planned pilot of smart driving licences to be issued from its new production plan in Swansea. UK gov decided not to issue any smart driving licences.

In 2008, we worked with DfT to determine the benefits and costs of a national smart ticketing infrastructure. In the same year, we ran a trial of how ITSO tickets could be supported on the primitive NFC phones available at the time. Mobile was going to be the next big thing. Also in the same year, we started working with TfL on how Open Loop ticketing could be deployed across the whole of the London Oyster reader estate.

This was nine years ago. We worked with TfL for seven years on that project, from specification of the readers and revenue inspection devices to designing the end-to-end security.

In 2012, TfL launched Open Loop ticketing on buses. In 2017 (approximately five years later), we are seeing the large bus operators outside of London launching their Open Loop ticketing systems, as well as collaborating with Transport for the North on a multi-modal, multi-operator solution.

Next big things

I’m back into the room. The panellists and I quickly agree that the answer to the panel discussion questions is, pretty much, that the same technology solutions that are dominating now will be dominating in five years’ time, because of the slow speed at which the industry moves. There’s a lot of work going on under the surface, but it takes years to emerge. I’m sure that account-based ticketing is coming next and some of that will be Open Loop. Various operators across the globe are talking to us about this at present.

A final example: Last year, we conducted a study on beacons for Be-In Be-Out (BIBO)-style transit ticketing. Our research showed that the industry has been looking at this since around 1997. There are still very few examples of it being successfully used, yet it’s still regularly cited as one of the next big things.

In April this year, Consult Hyperion is celebrating 20 years of annual Tomorrow’s Transactions conferences. I will be chairing a session on transit ticketing on the second day about what’s coming next. Confirmed speakers include: Will Judge (MasterCard), Ben Whitaker (Masabi) and John Henkel (Transport for the North). Come and hear what they think is coming next. I expect we will have to look beyond five years.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by WasiliyMay,

About the author

John Elliott

Dr John Elliott is principal consultant at Consult Hyperion, specialising in transaction technologies and systems.

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