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Transport for Wales: Second Only to TfL to Deploy Contactless EMV Card Payments

Unicard LTD, an established provider of smart ticketing and payment solutions to the public and commercial transport sector, has deployed its Ticketing Hub platform with Transport for Wales (TfW). This enables contactless EMV card payments on selected train routes and services in Wales. This is in addition to processing payments and ensuring passengers pay the best available fare.

The Unicard Ticketing Hub platform has enabled Transport for Wales 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.

Speaking about the deployment Sean Dickinson, CEO of Unicard, said: “The Unicard team in East Kilbride has worked very closely with TfW to implement this service. A significant amount of hard work went into this project. Now it has culminated into 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.”

Unicard Ticketing Hub

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. This 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.

Dickinson 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. For example, 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.”

At long last

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. However, 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. A live pilot scheme has 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.


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