Mobility-as-a-Service: Reinventing transportation via telco and tech

Centili Marketing

Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050, according to UN research. In any city, mobility is among key concerns; going to school, college and office, taking public transportation, bike, scooter or a car - life in the city is life on the go. Demand for mobility cuts across demographics and social structures. 

Right now, mobility in cities is provided in a chain of fragmented transportation vehicles and platforms and is not comprehended as a unified service. Although some cities have made huge progress in ways they facilitate mobility, the realities of public transportation can be quite harsh for those using it. 

Think of the hassle still involved in taking a taxi, metro and bus when coming back from a business trip. Transportation and parking can be a nightmare in summer or winter seasons. Major concerts, happenings and sports events are putting extra pressure on services and infrastructure. In large metropolitan areas, public transportation receives constant attention from local governments and authorities, and there are constant demands for improvements.

 

Mobility as a Service -  transport revolution of the 21st century?

Rising mobility combined with the rise of urbanization all over the world has created a horizon of opportunities for developing creative and innovative solutions that will address some of the pain points. Alternative transportation methods like park-and-ride, car-sharing and bike & scooter rentals have emerged. A trend away from individual car ownership, combined with alternative transportation opens up huge possibilities in a paradigm that has come to be known as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). 

MaaS is the integration of various transport services into a single mobility service, accessible on demand. MaaS operator facilitates a diverse menu of transport options, be they public transport, ride-, car- or bike-sharing, taxi or car rental/lease in various combinations. It is envisioned as a flexible and adaptable system of transportation that, through the use of a single application and a single payment channel, solves the inconvenient parts of individual journeys and multiple ticketing and payment operations.

Even though it's in its early stages, MaaS is already perceived as the biggest transport revolution of the 21st century in circles that are invested in the future of transportation. And it's easy to see why. The paradigm has the potential to introduce tremendous benefits in public and alternative transportation services. Instead of booking and paying for all the transport options separately, users could order and pay for one thing only - transportation from location A to location B. In this model, the number of rides, vehicles and their types becomes irrelevant. End users don’t have to worry about topping up debit cards, buying tickets or paying in cash. The city journey could become a more fluid, integrated experience.

A successful MaaS service also brings new business models and ways to organise and operate various transport options. Since the digitization of mass transit is already changing the face of public transport, cloud-based technologies and mobile phones offer new perspectives that go hand in hand with new demands. Mobile phones and telco-operated services are sitting at the very core of MaaS enablement. 

 

Carrier billing: Facilitating micropayments

Carrier billing is suited for transactions like the ones needed in parking or ticketing public transport. But with new demands, comes a new problem that direct carrier billing might solve. A diverse and customizable ticketing system is of great importance to the transport of the future. Providers must always ensure that their system is secure and developed under open standards that many companies can share. That way a single app and payment channel can be introduced. Mobile payments offer pay-as-you-go solutions that are a necessity and with their four of five-step payment process, you can collect the purchase easy and fast, with no additional paperwork or crowds. And last but not least, it offers a personalized client experience.

Carrier billing solution can give the client payment access regardless of their bank card or cellphone type, with an app, or via SMS so the days where we filled our purse with different cards and tickets are gone.


RCS: New levels of ease and engagement in transportation services

According to Juniper Research, Rich Communication Services (RCS) will be among the top 10 tech trends in years to come. RCS is the new generation of SMS that is aiming at replacing traditional SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit multimedia. The potential for such a service is huge because it offers companies the ability to create branded messages with incorporated multimedia, suggested reply buttons, and develop a relationship through two-way communication possibilities.

GSMA estimates that there are more than 350 million active users of RCS services. The number is expected to grow, as more and more telco networks and device manufacturers adopt the new standard. North America and Western Europe are leading in adoption, and it can be expected that those parts of the world will be the first ones to experience the benefits of RCS in services and communications across industries.  

RCS has potential in the MaaS paradigm in terms of rich notifications that can be delivered to transport users, in order to engage them and make their journey easier. Location capabilities, carousels, buttons and video content will likely get integrated into Mobility-as-a-Service solutions of the future.

Related to this is the omnichannel communications capacity. It is important in providing failover mechanisms - via SMS for instance, in cases where users can’t receive a notification via RCS, Viber or WhatsApp. This approach also provides better communication with the end-user of the transport service. It enables communication through the user’s preferred channel - Viber, WhatsApp, SMS or email. All these channels and services are easy to integrate through the API, and the solution provider handles maintenance, infrastructure and optimization.


Mobile Identity: Instant and reliable identification via mobile phone

Taking a step back, it’s right to assume that we will be relying on mobile devices more than ever before, whether it is through personal usage or launching new business initiatives. Mobile devices reflect customers’ identity in apps, data, and activities they engage in, and for that reason alone many business strategies are putting mobile devices at the centre of growth plans.

According to a survey “Say Goodbye to Passwords” by IDG, 89% of security leaders believe that mobile devices will serve as a digital ID to access enterprise services, emphasising how ineffective the passwords are in protecting our privacy. 67% of enterprise execs are less confident about the security of their mobile devices compared to other IT assets, according to Forbes. In handling a complex system that requires personal and bank data, like MaaS, an efficient security and ID validating system is of great importance.

Mobile Identity is a verification solution based on the information mobile operators have about their subscribers. Mobile Identity matches the user’s phone number with the mobile operator databases and verifies e.g. subscribing to a service, creating an account or making a mobile purchase with minimal interruption of user experience. 

Mobile Identity enables user-friendly use cases that extend far beyond the capabilities of current authentication methods. In the MaaS paradigm, using MI to authenticate each payment or app install via Silent Mobile Verification, SIM swap checks to further ensure the identity of the rider and protect from fraud and hacks, or form filling for signups and similar cases enhance the experience and the security in one convenient service. 

Mobile Identity is at the heart of the digital economy, improving customer experience, customer onboarding and their security throughout the journey, both physical and digital.

MaaS is the next step in transportation and with it comes a new set of challenges that will push digital and mobile industry in its next chapter. Mobile devices are becoming our IDs in the digital world and soon enough they could become an essential component of our mobility. To ensure a smooth and easy travelling across urban areas will remain a major concern of cities and municipalities, as well as of technology providers that will look to come up with innovative technologies and solutions in the area in years to come.