How Open Payment Systems Function in Public Transit

By Kevin Boland
Senior Director, Business Development, Conduent Public Transportation and Mobility

When choosing to go with an open payment system, transit planners often have no idea of how this type of system functions.

The concept of open payment allows riders to pay for transit in a variety of ways. It also includes a registration process that gives riders opportunities for customized discounts and other benefits. At the same time, the public transit provider receives valuable customer data for analysis. That is an open payment system in a nutshell.

So what else do you need to know about how open payment systems operate? A lot, it turns out, because these systems do much more than just manage rider payments and accounts.

Creating a Network
The biggest benefit of having an open payment system is the value it offers to the function of a transit organization. For a public transit organization to be effective, all parts of the whole must have a function. Dysfunction brings discord and creates problems within the organization, so identifying areas that are weak is paramount. But adding new functions to an organization takes work. It’s not as simple as implementing an open payment system and hoping it takes hold with the other departments in a transit office.

Those departments include maintenance, finance, operations, accounting, marketing and IT, just to name a few. Each of these departments stand to gain from the function of an open payment system. In fact, if there is no gain for each of the parts to the organization it creates that dysfunction we were talking about. So how exactly do you make an open payment system function as part of the whole?

Tips for Creating a Functional System
Start by taking the big data gathered by an open payment system. This includes everything from the personal information received when riders register for the system, to the data gathered about ride times and payment types. Every single data point that is received in an open payment system has the ability to be utilized by the greater organization. The goal is finding where these data points best fit for functionality.

For example, the marketing department can access valuable data that includes:

  • Age demographics of riders for marketing to the most in-demand cohorts
  • Busiest times of day, months, or seasons so marketing can create more effective campaigns
  • Personalized rider data that gives the marketing team a more clearer user persona

For the IT department, data opens up the discussion of ways to use data to create a better “UX” design for the system at large. For the revenue department, everything involving payment processes and payment amounts can be analyzed using this big data as a way to better target discount campaigns. This is just a sampling of ways marketing can use big data from open payment systems to make their jobs more efficient.

In addition to benefiting your organization at large, finding ways to help other departments use big data that comes from an open payment system also helps other members of teams accept the changeover. Acceptance is key to ensuring an open payment system gains a foothold and is able to function at its greatest capacity. After all, change can be a slow process that needs all of the support it can get to ensure a seamless transition.

Other Open Payment System Truths
Open payment systems are revolutionary and new to the public transit game. As a result, there are a lot of not-truths out there. Unfortunately these myths can deter would-be public transit systems from utilizing this modern payment method.

Break free of the myth that open payment systems are standalone systems that don’t offer any value to the greater good of a public transit organization.

To learn more, check out our eBook: “The Myths of Open Payment Fare Collection—Debunked!”

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