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In 2022, Lisbon rail operator Fertagus was the first operator in the city to enable open loop payment. The initiative, announced as part of the European Mobility Week, involved partners such as Forum member Switchio to develop seamless integration solutions aimed at making the lives of travellers easier. Since then, what has the implementation of open loop payment changed for travelling in the Portuguese capital? We spoke to Raquel Santos, Commercial Director at Fertagus, about the reasons behind the deployment and the experience since then.

Why did you as operator decide to implement open loop payment in the mobility network?

As a rail operator, Fertagus, decided to implement open loop payment in our mobility network primarily to enhance convenience and flexibility for our passengers. By integrating EMV cards for contactless payments, we aimed to streamline the fare payment process, reduce reliance on traditional ticketing methods, and provide passengers with a seamless travel experience. Additionally, open loop payment systems align with modern trends in transportation and cater to the evolving preferences of our riders.

What has been the experience since the launch of the service? 

Since the launch of the service, the experience has been largely positive. Passengers have welcomed the convenience of using their EMV cards for contactless payments, eliminating the need to carry physical tickets or complement fare cards. We’ve observed na little increase in number of passengers as a result of the simplified payment process, with commuters opting for Fertagus due to the ease of access and flexibility offered by open loop payment. Statistical analysis has shown shifts in travel patterns, with more passengers opting for spontaneous trips and shorter wait times at fare gates, contributing to a more efficient transportation network.

What were some of the challenges you encountered, and how have you tackled these?

Despite the overall success, we encountered several challenges during the implementation of open loop payment. One significant challenge was ensuring interoperability and compatibility with existing infrastructure and payment networks. To tackle this, we collaborated closely with our partners, including financial institutions, payment processors, and technology vendors, to develop seamless integration Solutions (Shif4, Axians, SwitchIO and Ubirider). Additionally, addressing security concerns and ensuring compliance with industry standards were paramount. Ongoing collaboration and proactive problem-solving have been instrumental in overcoming challenges and continuously improving the open loop payment experience for Fertagus passengers.