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Beyond the Transaction: Every Transaction Has a Story

What’s Next: How Your Phone Becomes Your Ticket to Ride

Editor’s Note: At Mobile World Congress 2015, MasterCard is participating in a discussion on the future of mobile to learn more about what’s next in digital commerce. We’re hosting a “What’s Next” in mobile series on our blog, inviting others to share perspectives.

What's Next

London-based Masabi is the world leader in mobile ticketing for public transport. The company works with half of the UK rail industry as well as cities including; New York, Athens, Boston and San Diego. It recently signed a global partnership with MasterCard to help remove the need for cash on public transit systems.

Buying tickets to ride on public transport has changed very little since the invention of the steam train. Passengers are forced to visit a physical location to turn their money into a paper or plastic physical “ticket”. This has always been a frustrating process, resulting in countless missed trains and annoyed passengers.

This problem has been continual because there was no quick fix. Providing traditional infrastructure that is big enough to serve peak demand is both impractical and impossible due to space and cost, so there needs to be another solution. As an example, a typical London station at peak can receive a new train every few minutes, each of which can hold as many passengers as four jumbo jets. Previously, providing the variable sales capacity to serve this level of peak demand simply wasn’t an option.

The past few years have seen mobile technology entering the fray – changing the game for passengers and transport companies alike. Mobile ticketing turns passenger’s phones into both the ticket machine and the ticket while also providing a channel for providing routing and disruption information – you never have to wait in line for your own phone.


For both the passenger and the agency it also removes one of the greatest hassles – cash. Fumbling for the correct change for the bus for passengers or managing a city-wide cash collection system represents a headache for passengers and transport operators alike.

This technology is also transformational for commuters, but also international travellers. Turning up in a city and trying to find your way around has changed completely: before you either had to plan forensically in advance or turn-up, pull out a map and try to connect the dots, before tackling the vending machine at the station to buy your ticket. Now customers can arrive in a city and choose their trip, using a wealth of apps powered by open data to take them from door-to-door, before deep-linking into a service like Masabi’s to purchase their ticket from the transport operator themselves without even needing local currency.

Masabi is working with MasterCard to remove cash and the hassle from using public transportation. The two companies are perfectly aligned with the aim of making the use of public transport easier– a goal which is set to become even more important as ever increasing numbers of people switch to using public transport.