Account-Based Ticketing: ticketing projected to the future

“Account-Based Ticketing”, also known as “ABT”: a lot has been said about it, but not all the information found on the Internet highlights well enough the force of this innovative ticketing paradigm and its natural predisposition for the future.

Let’s try to clarify it, starting from the definition of ABT itself. To precisely define what Account-Based Ticketing is, we refer to ISO/TR 20526:2017 which positions ABT as a method of ticketing in which the proof of entitlement to travel does not require any physical media held by the passenger. Rather, recorded transactions inclusive of ticketing and fares are maintained in a comprehensive back office system and readily accessible at any time.

This marks an important change of perspective compared to the traditional Automated Fare Collection (AFC) systems used by public transport operators: in the ABT, the intelligence and security of the ticketing system are concentrated in the central system instead of in the media and in the readers. For this reason, ABT is also known as “server-based ticketing” or “Security in System”.

ABT can work both online and offline using risk-managed revenue protection techniques. Technically, an account is always required in the ABT, but it is still possible to make “anonymous” trips or allow the use of non-nominal travel tickets.

Among the great advantages of the ABT, there is the possibility of using third-party media such as credit cards and national cards (for example an Electronic Identity Card). This phenomenon is known as “BYOD”, Bring Your Own Device. The EMV technology (in particular the TRANSIT model), widely used in the largest Italian cities, is a subset of an ABT ticketing system and is part of the family of third-party supports.

It is precisely these advantages that have emerged thanks to EMV projects that unveil and leverage the potential of a complete Account-Based AFC system, which includes but is not limited to bank cards. In an ABT scenario, the ticketing system shall be extended to a number of other media, including the digital channels so widely used nowadays (for example smartphones or wearables) and those that could quickly emerge and be beneficial in the not too distant future to provide the best fare calculation for any given trip.

The adoption of digitization of users who live in our cities is running at a frenzied pace: ABT is the ticketing method that supports this revolution. Thanks to the abstraction from the user support and from a specific technologies, to easily access ticketing and access to various languages spoken by transportation providers is a huge benefit. It is no coincidence that all private transport services have been using Account-Based booking / ticketing / access systems for years, some of these with mobile as their only active channel (an Uber ride can only be booked via a smartphone). Local public transport cannot rely on the sole mobile channel, but can now begin to benefit from the advantages offered by ABT, a ticketing technology born by the intersection of interoperability and intermodality… in other words, we are intrinsically ready for the great MaaS revolution that is making its way closer to us day by day.

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