HCE ticketing in the UK is a ‘game changer’
Rambus Ecebs has developed a Host Card Emulation (HCE) mobile solution that is being used in a ticketing trial in the UK. The initiative will allow selected individuals to purchase and download train tickets to an NFC-enabled smartphone, and then use the device to access the transport network.
While the trial is constrained to train lines that operate between two cities in the North of England, its importance cannot be under estimated. Why? Because the adoption of HCE by transport operators has the potential to be a game changer. It represents a real-world transition from physical transport ticketing to a truly digitalised ecosystem.
What is HCE?
HCE is the software architecture that emulates a traditional tamper resistant smart card. By using HCE, a near-field-communication (NFC) transaction can take place based on software (and possibly other hardware) on the phone rather than a dedicated, physical smart card chip.
This means that the mobile device acts as a virtual representation of a contactless smart card, enabling transport operators to maximise the potential capabilities of smartphones (which are already in circulation) as an alternative to issuing their own cards, expanding choice beyond ticket vending machines, self service kiosks and manned point of sales.
In essence, HCE is a cost-effective and attractive solution to implement for any ticketing requirement.
What else does HCE offer?
HCE technology also has the capability to:
- Promote interoperability across separate closed-loop transport systems across the UK (and beyond). This would allow travellers to download and use tickets from multiple operators.
- Reduce costs of delivering mobile ticketing as HCE solutions can be supported by cloud-based backend systems. HCE is also independent from network carriers or device manufacturers.
- Deliver true consumer value through additional services beyond transport by using commercial partnerships. For example, linking the ticketing application with a local coffee shop offer or other retailer.
Crucially, once we begin to digitalise our ticketing infrastructure, there are endless opportunities to use mobile advancements to deliver traveller convenience as well as implement cost efficiencies to the operator.
HCE has the potential to support mass market mobile ticketing and we see great opportunity in the future of smart transport.