Data insight in the public transport sector

Data insights are increasingly important to consumers and businesses and naturally this includes insights into travel data in the public transport sector. In collaboration with mobility player Flowbird, we made this possible by creating an online portal for travellers to register personal and credit card data. This system is unique and innovative for open payments in the public transport sector, as previously different data sources could not be linked.
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Data insights with open payment systems for public transport


Registration of personal and credit card details in an online portal

Travelling using credit card payments on public transport

Imagine this. You’ll never need a travel card to check in on public transport again, just your credit card. That means easy and spontaneous access to public transport even if you forget your travel card. We aren’t there in The Netherlands just yet, but in France, for example, they are. Flowbird, a French company that specialises in payment and ticketing systems in public transport, offers this service. Flowbird uses open payments to do this by building on the idea of open banking, with banks making more and more data available to third parties.

Flowbird wanted to give travellers insights into their travel behaviour as an extra service. Think for example of the location, time, and costs of each journey. This may sound obvious, but this is an innovation for open payments in public transport. This is innovative because open payments are regulated by very strict legislation, and businesses are only party to information that’s necessary for completing payments. So the question we started working on with Flowbird was: how can Flowbird link travel, payment and personal data to a traveller? But also: how does Flowbird provide insights to travellers while keeping privacy in mind?

Online portal with 3D secure flow

After exploratory sprints with Flowbird we decided that the existing online portal was the answer to that question. The solution was to let travellers register their credit card, via an online flow, in a personal account in the online portal, including a 3D secure flow, that established with certainty that the credit card really belongs to that traveller. Moreover, Flowbird can save a reference to the card number via the online flow that links the different data sources. This unique system makes it possible to give both Flowbird and travellers the insights they need.


Multiple advantages

The travel behaviour insights have brought even more advantages for Flowbird and travellers:

  • Public transport companies have better control over debtors because travellers payment methods are directly linked to Flowbird systems. This means that public transport companies can make periodic reservations of 0 euro on payment cards to check whether they are still being used. If a traveller is found to have unpaid journeys, they can be paid off through the online portal.

  • This system works for both debts and refunds, and travellers can also claim refunds for delays through the online portal.

Future possibilities

Future opportunities? There are plenty for Flowbird. For instance, Flowbird is already operating outside of France and is looking forward to operating in more countries. To make the system ready for cross-border activities, we made sure that different Payment Service Providers can be linked in a uniform way because an important part of scalability is being able to link new Payment Service Providers quickly.

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