04 May 2021

Move to open loop payments begins on Finland’s city transport

First phase of multimodal contactless transit payment systems in Helsinki and Tampere underway

Today, Littlepay announces the launch of open loop payments on public transport in Finland’s capital Helsinki and its second largest urban area, the city of Tampere. Tap-to-pay is now live on selected ferries and trams in Helsinki and on buses operated by Nysse in Tampere.

Last year, transit-focused payment service provider, Littlepay, won a contract with Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) and TVV lippu- ja maksujärjestelmä Oy (LMJ) to enable contactless EMV payments on public transport in Helsinki and in other Finnish cities. This is the first phase of the project, which will continue with multi-modal roll-outs across the cities’ transit systems.

Simplicity and convenience for riders

HSL’s key objective in modernizing its ticketing and payment system is to improve the experience of commuting and leisure travel. Quick, easy and safe contactless transit payments are expected to be popular with city dwellers and tourists who already use tap-to-pay solutions in retail and hospitality.

Mari Flink, Customer Experience and Sales, Director of Department, at HSL says, “We believe our riders will appreciate the convenience of the new systems we are putting in place. On public transport, it’s so simple to tap a contactless card or device on a reader, rather than queuing to buy a travel card or ticket, or downloading a transit app.”

Contactless payments preference

There is already strong contactless payment adoption in the Nordics, which has accelerated in the last year. Data from paytech leader Nets shows that the ratio of contactless card payments rose significantly in the region during the pandemic – from around 56% at the start of 2020 to 74% in November. In Finland, there was growth from 64% to 70% over that period.

Petri Carpén, Director at Nets, says: “The Nordic region has long been at the forefront when it comes to contactless payment. Although the trend was clear when we entered 2020, the change in consumer behavior over the last year has been unusually rapid.”

Contactless payment ratio in the Nordics as a proportion of all card payments

A modular open loop payment system

The fare collection systems being used in Helsinki and Tampere are an example of Littlepay’s modular approach. Both use Littlepay for transit payment processing and Nets for card scheme connectivity. However, the solutions vary in their choice of integrated hardware. In Helsinki, PPT Excellence validators handle card taps, while in Tampere, hardware is provided by Pusatec, Logos and Feig.

The ability to plug-and-play different connected validators and acquiring services is a key advantage of using Littlepay. The payment gateway has secured numerous partnerships with ticketing technology providers and financial institutions, which allow it to offer a range of hybrid solutions. All integrations are PCI Level 1 certified and compliant with card scheme rules for transit.

First use of new technology

Littlepay has achieved a number of ‘firsts’ to bring these projects to fruition, including localization of its merchant portal, with Finnish and Swedish translations and Euro currency support.

For the Tampere deployment, Littlepay has enhanced its fare capping rules to introduce zonal, time-based capping. This allows the transit agency to configure fare caps depending on the time period a passenger is travelling within and the zonal areas they enter during their journey. The new capping rules offer flexibility and value for the passenger. They can travel across as many zones as needed within the travel window and trust that they will be charged the best fare for the journey taken.

Littlepay’s new fare inspection app, Littlepay Inspect, sees its first use in Helsinki. The app is compatible with any Android, NFC-enabled device and so removes the need for expensive, PCI compliant hardware to check a contactless payment method’s validity for travel. It supports inspection on- and off-vehicles, automatically checking cards against a list of known taps.

Another of HSL’s objectives with this project is to begin a migration towards account based ticketing in Finland’s cities, which would mean travel rights and travel product rules are controlled in a back-end system. To facilitate this, a later phase of the project will involve the use of Littlepay’s recently developed back-office API to integrate a back-office with the payment platform.

Transit payment specialism

Littlepay has become a valued partner to HSL and LMJ during the onboarding process, because of its specialism in transit payments and the experience it has gained working with over 200 public transport operators. Littlepay’s tap-to-pay solutions are on more than 20,000 vehicles in the UK and Ireland, and expansion into mainland Europe and the USA is already well underway.

Littlepay’s experience in the field is valuable for us, as contactless payment in transit is a complex and strictly-regulated area. We appreciate their good knowledge, experience and partnership in our journey towards contactless.

Kira Hellstrom, Project Manager at HSL

It's great to see two cities go live in Finland. We thank HSL and LMJ for entrusting us to deliver open loop payments and we look forward to expanding the system across their networks, encompassing more transport modes into a unified solution. The Nordic region is increasingly cashless and we anticipate strong adoption.

Amin Shayan, CEO of Littlepay

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