Heathrow Express has launched a free mobile-phone application designed to enable consumers to purchase train tickets and receive them directly to their phones, the United Kingdom-based train company reported Dec. 16.

UK-based BAA Ltd. operates Heathrow Express between London’s Paddington train station and Heathrow Airport. A Heathrow Express representative was unable to comment on the new application by PaymentsSource deadline.

Heathrow Express is the first UK train company to launch a mobile-ticketing application, but the concept is not new. Masabi Ltd. in September announced its plans to roll out a barcode-based mobile application to enable consumers to purchase train tickets from their mobile phones through thetrainline.com, a UK-based ticketing website (see story).

Heathrow Express’ free downloadable application works with Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry and Google Inc.’s Android phones and with any Java-enabled mobile phone, Heathrow Express says in a news release. It plans to launch a version for Apple Inc. iPhones in early 2011.

The application enables consumers to purchase train tickets and receive them directly to their mobile phone via a two-dimensional barcode and reference number, Heathrow Express explains in the release. Because of the barcode technology, train staff may scan the tickets directly from the phone screen, which eliminates the need for paper tickets.

To purchase tickets, which are the same price as the company’s online tickets, consumers choose the direction of travel, the number of tickets they desire and the type of ticket they need, such as round trip or one way. After the ticket information is selected, the application then prompts consumers to enter their payment card details.

Consumers may store their preferred payment method and personal details within the application, which also keeps a history of past purchases, Heathrow Express says. The application does not store consumers’ three-digit security codes, however. Entering the codes is required each time consumers buy a ticket.

The application received accreditation from Barclays PLC. It also complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and accepts all major payment cards except MasterCard Worldwide’s Maestro PIN-based debit card, the train company says.

The concept of mobile ticketing is beginning to gain some traction within the payments industry, Megan Bramlette, director of New York-based Auriemma Consulting Group, tells PaymentsSource. Many companies are developing applications to enable consumers to purchases train, airline and even concert tickets directly with their mobile phones, she says.

Business travelers should find the Heathrow Express application appealing, Bramlette adds. Consumers do not have to wait in line and can prepay for their tickets while planning their trip, she says.

Moreover, ticketing applications reinforce the convenience of card payments, Bramlette says.

Not every consumer prefers to use a mobile phone for payments, but it is likely that “mobile-based purchases will eat into the market share of in-person transactions because of the convenience factor,” she notes.

Many consumers might prefer not to have to carry around cash or cards because the information is stored on their mobile phone, Bramlette says.

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