Article Highlights

Key Takeaway:

Four cities in Finland have launched open-loop payments, with “more in the pipeline,” making the Nordic country one of the global hotspots for the fare technology.

Key Data:

Nets found that in June, 71% of all retail card payments in Finland were made using contactless EMV credit and debit cards or NFC wallets storing open-loop credentials. That’s up from 64% in January 2020.

Organizations Mentioned:

• HSL (Helsinki)
• Nysse (Tampere)
• LMJ
Littlepay

A fourth city in Finland is beginning to roll out contactless open-loop payments, with “more in the pipeline,” according to one supplier on the project, making the Nordic country one of the latest hotspots for the technology.

Open-loop projects in the Finnish capital Helsinki, along with two other top five urban areas in the country, Tampere and Oulu, went live this year. The latest, Hämeenlinna, a small city 100 kilometers north of Helsinki, launched late last month, according to Littlepay, which is supplying what it calls transit payments processing for all four projects.

It says there are more projects to come, with a centralized procurement company, co-owned by more than 20 Finnish cities, helping to set up the open-loop projects.

“A number of these cities are in the pipeline for the rollout; as the cities express an interest, they get added to the rollout program,” a spokeswoman for Littlepay told Mobility Payments. She said she could not elaborate on where and when the next projects would launch.

Littlepay has a deal with the procurement company, TVV lippu- ja maksujärjestelmä Oy, or LMJ. LMJ also maintains the closed-loop Waltti card used in a number of cities and towns nationwide, though not in Helsinki and Tampere.

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority is a co-owner of LMJ and launched open-loop payments earlier this year on at least some of its ferries and trams. It plans to accept contactless EMV payments on its entire multimodal system, including its buses and metro. The rollout is expected to be completed in 2023.

The Tampere Regional Transport Authority, or Nysse, serving the second-largest urban area in Finland after Helsinki, accepts open-loop payments on buses and trams. And Oulu and Hämeenlinna have launched on buses.

The Hämeenlinna Regional Public Transport Authority, which has a ridership of only around 1 million per year, started with two bus operators Oct. 25 and plans to equip the other seven to handle contactless, said Littlepay, which provides Hämeenlinna and the other cities with fare-calculation software.

This enables daily and weekly fare capping that is either planned or is already implemented. Littlepay said it is also offering at least some of the cities time-based capping to enable users to ride for 90 minutes and receive the best fare.

A statement from the Hämeenlinna transit authority in Littlepay’s announcement said that in addition to open-loop payments enabling customers to avoid using closed-loop cards or other payments methods or having to understand a transit agency’s tariff schemes, customers have generally been asking for contactless payments options.

The vendor notes that use of contactless payments at retail in Finland, as elsewhere, have been increasing during the pandemic, according to Nordics processor Nets. Nets found that in June, 71% of all card payments in Finland were made using contactless EMV credit and debit cards or NFC wallets storing open-loop credentials. That’s up from 64% in January 2020.

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