16 Dec 2021

Littlepay: Review of our Year

With the end of the year quickly approaching, we’re in a reflective state of mind, taking a moment to appreciate all the remarkable times Littlepay had in 2021.

This year saw us scale-up, growing our team and expanding into new territories. Everyone at Littlepay has contributed to this growth by working hard and collaborating well with our partners. Together, we have achieved many milestones in 2021.

Global milestones

We started the year in a strong position in the UK, with our contactless fare collection systems on more than two thirds of buses outside of London. As the year progressed, we onboarded more UK bus operators, and made our first inroads into continental Europe and North America.

The pandemic has fuelled the need for contactless payments. With increasing numbers of transit operators seeking a way to accept bank card and mobile wallet payments, our modular solution answered a need for a fast, cost-efficient alternative to building systems from scratch.

In 2020, we set out the groundwork for several deployments to go live in Europe and, in February 2021, we celebrated our first launch in Spain. Littlepay partnered with Masabi, Gertek and Elavon to introduce contactless payments to Bilbao's metropolitan bus service.

Following the contract Littlepay won to bring contactless transit payments to Finland, this Spring we launched tap-to-pay on Helsinki’s city transport, including ferries, trams and buses. Our national rollout in Finland continued in Tampere, Oulu and Hämeenlinna, helping HSL and LMJ move closer to their objective of modernising their fare collection processes.

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In May, we accomplished one of our most important goals - to bring our solution to North America. In collaboration with Cal-ITP, Visa and other partners, we launched contactless open loop payments on MST buses in Monterey, California.

This was the State’s first tap-to-ride system and kicked off a series of pilots, which are part of the California Integrated Travel Project. In close succession, we provided payment processing for contactless ticketing demos in Sacramento and Santa Barbara, with technology partners including Kuba, PPT, SC Soft. Sacramento was a big moment - with SacRT being the first transit agency to launch contactless payments on light rail.

Our Global Head of Commercial, Paul Griffin, says taking our first steps in the United States one of the highlights of his year.

The work we have done with Cal-ITP in California has paved the way for a more modular approach. We’ve demonstrated that you don’t have to be a huge city to start accepting contactless bank cards in transit; any agency can do it. The experience has also driven our thinking around PAYG as the most equitable form of payment and how we can use EMV technology to create better solutions for concessions and the unbanked. For me that has been the most important part of our growth in 2021.

Paul Griffin, Global Head of Commercial, Littlepay

Adam Pitts, our Head of Product, agreed the launch of the Californian demos was pivotal for Littlepay and one of his proudest moments of the year - specifically because of the growth that it triggered in product development.

2021 has seen the expansion of our product into new regions, as we continue to deliver a pipeline of work that adds new scheme acceptance and acquirer connections. Using our flexible APIs, we’ve welcomed new integration partners to launch important EMV trials in Europe and North America.

Adam Pitts, Head of Product, Littlepay

The second half of the year saw us launch our first deployment in Portugal. Working with our partners Cybersource, Unicre, Card4B and ACS, amid a large stakeholder group including Visa, Andante and TIP, Littlepay was instrumental in bringing contactless payments to Porto.

We reached the ocean in Europe at about the same time as hitting the West Coast of California - so it felt like we were ticking off our global ambitions.

Amin Shayan, CEO, Littlepay

New fare models in the UK

Our continued work with major operators in the UK remains crucial and demonstrates the flexibility of our solution. In August, we partnered with Ticketer to launch the largest ‘Tap on, Tap off’ scheme outside of London, with First Bus in Leicester and the Potteries.

This new payment system brings added value to passengers. With Tap on, Tap off contactless, combined with daily and weekly fare capping, they can travel freely throughout the region and are automatically charged the best fare for the trips they make.

A further Tap on, Tap off scheme was launched with First West Yorkshire in November, introducing a flexible fare cap. This capping model has been developed to accommodate the flexible working pattern of passengers who might only travel a few days a week to the office. It allows them to take advantage of incremental discounts on their fare the more they travel.

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Exciting product development

While our operations team was busy onboarding new merchants, our product team was working hard to integrate new ticketing technology and financial partners, while keeping up the momentum of our product roadmap.

We’ve continued to invest in core product offerings - Littlepay Records (data and reporting), fare models (capping and discounts), and Littlepay Checkout (e-commerce payments). With the addition of Checkout, we’re excited to be able to offer an omni-channel payment experience and 'Card As an Authority to Travel' EMV ticketing solutions.

Adam Pitts, Head of Product. Littlepay

People and culture development

One of Littlepay’s most important goals of 2021 was to attract talent and bring on board the specialists needed to support our business growth.

A big stepping stone in this mission was welcoming Brian Frank to our team as our General Manager in North America. He has since been joined by Business Development Manager Adam McGavock.

Littlepay’s presence in South America was secured with the arrival of Didier Muguet, who joined Littlepay as our Business Development Manager for the region. Our CEO Amin Shayan, says:

In South America Littlepay is now represented by someone with both the technical and the regional market expertise to make a real difference to the transit authorities. Didier's know-how has already proven to be a big advantage for Littlepay.

Amin Shayan, CEO, Littlepay

In addition to these key regional appointments, we’ve almost doubled our team during the year. We started 2021 with a staff of 39 across two countries and we’re ending the year with 72 employees across four countries. Our Head of People and Culture, Jennifer Tod, says:

We have welcomed new staff in Australia, the UK and the US. We are proud of our growing Littlepay team and its resilience and collective kindness during another year of challenges. I’m also endlessly impressed by its relentless drive to design innovative solutions to problems - and to work collaboratively to achieve great things together.

Jennifer Tod, Head of People and Culture, Littlepay

Another project we have been working on for a while is our move to a new London office. In September, we started working from our new place of business, a stone’s throw from Spitalfields market, in a bustling part of the city. We’ve loved the last few months, being able to work together in person, introducing new and established team members for the first time.

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Return to the conference circuit

As pandemic restrictions started to ease around Europe, we had the opportunity to take part in some transit-focused events. Our Global Head of Commercial, Paul Griffin was a speaker at Smartex's TCF21 in Brighton and discussed the future of contactless EMV payments. Meanwhile, Littlepay’s Strategic Partner Program Manager, Sarah Memmi joined our partners from Kuba at Rencontres Nationales du Transport Public in Toulouse.

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After such a long break from in-person events, we feel blessed to enjoy these opportunities to meet customers and partners in person once more. We’re now looking forward to exhibiting at Transport Ticketing Global at the start of February 2022.

Looking back… and forward

It’s great to stand still for a moment, look back and appreciate all the amazing milestones we passed this year. Littlepay has made significant steps in new territories and seen incredible growth in our teams. We’re now setting goals for 2022 and the future is looking exciting! We can’t wait to share the projects we have in the pipeline for the coming months.

As the year comes to an end, we'd like to say thank you to all of our customers and partners. Your support, team work, and mastery in your field have been instrumental in everything we have accomplished!


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