How India Advanced Its Smart Services

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4Q 2018 | IN-5260

Expanding the capabilities of smart ticketing to take advantage of India’s growth in mobile device usage will open up opportunities beyond the transportation sector. Given India’s significant population and diversity of wealth, this will be an interesting market to watch.

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Smart Services Expand


India has been an exciting location for smart cards and smart services, with 2016 through 2018 seeing many systems advancing rapidly. On the Aqua Line rail network, connecting Noida and Greater Noida, smart ticketing has endeavored to provide a ticketing system that allows commuters to use the smart device beyond transport for bus, parking, and shopping payments. This system has been managed by using a range of devices alongside a smart card (called the City 1 card) or a QR-code based paper ticket. The goal has been to increase the volume of commuters that are able to pass through the gate.

India’s Influence on the Market


India is the second largest country in terms of smart card shipments, with just under 1.2 billion units shipped in 2017; of these, 30 million were transport smart cards. The region influences global market developments and offers increased opportunity for smart card applications, not the least of which are due to India having the world’s second largest population.

The current Aqua Line project is still in its formative stage, which will contribute to India’s smart card dynamics, including growth and shipments. Further, if the region can complete its project fully without amendments or delays, it will provide the market with another open-loop system. An open-loop system is one in which the end user (the commuter, in this instance) can use a device within this ticketing system, as well as in others, which may not necessarily be owned by the same company or group. This also includes using other ticketing modalities and payment applications; for instance, using a Eurocard, Mastercard, Visa (EMV)-enabled payment card to board a train or a bus and to buy food.

Currently, only a few systems worldwide have adopted an open-loop acceptance type system for ticketing (London and Melbourne are two primary examples). The inclusion of India will prove to be valuable as the population is more varied in technology ownership and wealth. These variables have been dealt with by supplying the two ticketing types: QR codes and smart cards; but there may still be room for improvement. India’s increasing usage of mobile devices and smartphones means that there is also a desire to include mobile ticketing into those systems. This may be further down the pipeline for Aqua Line, but is not out of the question.

Trusting the Trend


There are four main new driving forces behind ticketing where transport authorities, system integrators, smart card vendors, mobile network operators, and original equipment manufacturers need to focus their business models. These drivers are:

  • Open-loop acceptance
  • Mobile ticketing
  • Account-based ticketing
  • Multi-modal devices

Similar to open-loop acceptance, account-based ticketing and multi-modal devices offer the same benefits. The goal of all these technologies is to create a more streamlined experience and facilitate ease of use for the end user. But there are also opportunities for system operators, as it is possible to achieve a return on investment from the growth in smart device usage. As most smart devices need an online or on-screen support design (i.e., an app or website), it will be possible to create dialog between system operators and the end user, and to provide extra incentives to use the system operator’s specific service with targeted advertising. For example, a mobile wallet with ticketing capabilities could provide notices via in-app notifications, emails regarding bank or transport deals, or even (if end-user habits are recorded) targeted offers for retail services. Not only will this attract return customers, but it could also attract investment from retailers and mobile app services, as they will want to be involved in a profitable system and attract some of those same customers to their services.


Companies Mentioned