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Hot ticket: m-ticketing ready for action thanks to PSD2

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Now that PSD2 has come into force, mobile ticketing driven by carrier billing is set to boom across Europe. Paul Skeldon reports from the Fonix and EE Mobile Ticketing Event in London and finds out what that might look like and what the challenges and benefits are going to be

PSD2 coming into play means that the world of charge to mobile has expanded greatly. We have already seen how it is going to revolutionise motoring through its integration with the internet of things (IOT) in motoring, but it is in ticketing where perhaps it will see its biggest impact.

According to research by MobileSquared, in the UK alone, around a third of consumers are keen to start using charge to mobile to buy low-value tickets, such as bus fares, train tickets, taxi rides and so on.

“The low hanging fruit is there and will come from all those people that already use PRS,” says MobileSquared’s chief insight analyst Nick Lane. “They already love it and trust it. The challenge will come from educating the mass market about carrier billing.”

EE’s Partnership Lead, Peter Garside agrees. “We have a fantastic opportunity here with m-ticketing. We have already seen it doing well in Italy, Germany, and Finland,” he says. “We have the ability to do that here in the UK now PSD2 is in place.”

This is echoed by leading mobile payments guru – and one of the editor’s at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) – Tim Green. “M-ticketing is a huge opportunity,” he says. “Paper tickets offer many barriers to entry – often quite literally – and are open to fraud, loss and high costs to manage and inspect. Mobile, however, is everywhere and tied up with wallets, ID and biometrics, it can be much more secure.”

The opportunity is huge, believes Lee Booth, CEO of Active Ticketing. “It is a great opportunity to reinvent ticketing and brings massive benefits to artists, brands, venues and security. PSD2 opens up the market to a complete transformation. It will immediately allow big ticket items to be sold using carrier billing – we have a South American MNO looking at using it to sell $5000 VIP packages to F1 events – and is a massive opportunity.”

In the transport market, the trend is definitely away from the physical ticket and into the digital, says Giacomo Biggiero, Head of Business Development at Masabi. “It is already moving towards using what people have on them: mobile phones and contactless cards. Phone and apps for ticketing are already here. The next step is seamlessly scanning those as you enter and leave so you never have to actually do anything to pay. Eventually, this will be scanning of bio-signatures, but that’s some way away.”

Data wars

While carrier billing and mobile tech make the purchase and deliver of mobile tickets very attractive, it is the data that mobile brings to the party that is what is really attractive and, arguably, is why this will take off.

“Instantly, venues will know not only who has bought what ticket, but they will know who is where in their venue – this is a ripe opportunity for deeper engagement and ultimately upselling,” says Booth.

But who owns that data is likely to become the big question. In a transport scenario, is the data owned by the transport company or the network operator? In an entertainment context, is it the artist, the venue, the promoter, or the MNO? All this is going to muddy the waters, believes, Booth and is where the arguments are going to lie.

Green thinks that the complex value chain that surround carrier billing could have a similar impact. “The payment is run by the operator for the merchant and so the merchant loses a cut of anywhere between 5 and 30%. Compared to credit and debit card which is 1-3% this could be a problem.

Education of the merchants and the consumers is going to be key, stresses MobileSquared’s Lane. MNOs will have to make sure that consumers get it, but they also have to explain it to merchants and sell the idea that the benefits – seamless payment, ease of use, data – are all worth it.

Show me the money

Another merchant concern over carrier billing’s role in m-ticketing has been the idea of refunds. What if someone buys a ticket and then changes their mind?

“Refunds have been a concern for merchants,” says EE’s Garside. “And we have done a lot of work to fix this and we think we have now. We have also created the MyEE app that can help not only log spending on carrier billing, but will also help make the refund process easier. This should also remove bill shock.”

While MyEE helps manage payments, the user experience for the whole mobile ticketing process is also a worry, says Green. “The DCB [direct carrier billing]bit is OK, but if its buried in an app, among many other options to pay, it could all get very messy and hard to use,” he warns.

But the demand is there, says AIMM chairman Neil Johnson, and PSD2 will let it happen. “36% of EE customers actively want to buy tickets using carrier billing – and that will drive it. There is a lot to do now PSD2 is in place, not least on out-payments, but it will happen.”

Ease, availablity, choice

But challenges aside, there is a real opportunity here to not only deliver a new way to get and use tickets for anything, but to also embed carrier billing in the mainstream – and it is one that the industry is embracing.

Rob Weisz, CEO of Fonix, puts it well. “There is a massive opportunity here. Carrier billing works through text, the web, apps, anywhere digital really, and is so easy to use – it could just be two clicks and its done. It is also very accessible, because there is already a 100% penetration of mobile in the UK – in most European markets, in fact – and that means they can all use carrier billing. And finally it gives choice. You don’t have to use carrier billing to buy tickets  – the other advantages apply however they are paid for – but offering the choice is what is key here and that is what will make it work.”

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