For many industries, the introduction of open standards has been a key driver for innovation. The rapid evolution of the internet and online services offer a vivid example of the degree to which open standards can enable immense innovation and growth.

Yet in transport ticketing, proprietary solutions from integrated circuits through to software protocol, still dominate due to the localized nature of the requirements, thereby limiting innovation and growth in the marketplace.

Global adoption of open standards is instrumental in driving the development and adoption of innovative Automated Fare Collection / Revenue (AFC / ARC) technologies, applications and services. This could ultimately lead to a broader open systems based adoption of contactless technologies such as: integrating near-field-communication (NFC) using mobile devices, supporting cross transport network and cross border solutions, and increasing public / private partnerships to facilitate the adoption of these services.

Indeed, there is broad scope for industry innovation in the AFC / ARC market that would catalyse adoption of contactless technology, even beyond transport ticketing. The very concept of consumer payments could be transformed. Imagine a single interoperable card or smartphone application on which a multitude of different credentials can reside, such as a bank card, transport card, or ID card, and the seamless experience such a technology would bring to the process of physical transactions.

Four years ago, the OSPT Alliance, an international association chartered to provide the standard for secure transit fare collection solutions, announced the launch of CIPURSE, an interoperable, vendor neutral and secure AFC / ARC open standard. It was developed to directly tackle the unique problems faced by transport authorities and to promote the use of open standards in a secure environment for AFC / ARC; thereby providing long-term system flexibility when adopting new evolving applications.

Most recently, the association launched its North American Sub-Working Group that is actively engaging with stakeholders operating across the North American transport ecosystem to better understand current and future ticketing requirements and address their unique needs.

Importantly, CIPURSE (OSPT Alliance’s open standard) can integrate with, rather than replace, an existing ticketing system. Transport operators and authorities can therefore protect their existing infrastructure investments while evolving to interconnect digital consumer channels. In support of these expanding consumer channels, CIPURSE is architected in a manner to effectively adapt to the multiple viable approaches to AFC / ARC such as stored value, account based and account linked for both smart cards and mobile devices.

Today’s AFC / ARC capabilities can create a strong foundation for continuing integration between wider digital ecosystems. Such systems include fare / revenue collection and payments, loyalty programs, security and a host of others.

OSPT Alliance’s fast-growing membership base currently comprises over 50 companies across four continents. The association’s membership is collectively driving the adoption of CIPURSE across the AFC / ARC landscape and is promoting the benefits that a fully interoperable, scalable and open standard can bring to a number of industries.

With a foundation based on the CIPURSE open standard, transport operators can benefit in many ways that were previously not possible. Take NFC enabled mobile handsets, a technology which has real promise of replacing cash and card payments for low cost purchases. To support this, OSPT Alliance has defined CIPURSE mobile, which enables transport operators to enhance their systems to support mobile ticketing. The alliance recently released guidelines which provide everything developers need to implement and use the CIPURSE V2 open security standard when embedded in an NFC mobile device. This complements CIPURSE’s very capable support of smart card open standards.

With open standards now available, AFC / ARC systems have the potential to become the contactless killer application. The incentive is there for market players and industry leaders to drive this change towards efficient, flexible, adoptable and secure fare / revenue collection applications. These innovations will not only reduce costs, but also simplify the operations and management. And as the adoption of open standards grows who knows what opportunities for truly next-generation contactless technology may await us beyond this immediate vision.

Laurent Cremer is executive director of the OSPT Alliance.