Helsinki transit agency HSL is seeking bids for at least 4,500 validators for its planned multimodal open-loop payments service. HSL is taking a modular approach to building the system, contracting for the components it needs separately.
At least four cities, including Helsinki, were supporting open loop as of last November or were planning to roll it out. There were more cities “in the pipeline,” according to the payments service provider Littlepay.
• HSL (Helsinki)
• Nets (Denmark)
The Helsinki regional transport agency, or HSL, late last week released a tender request through procurement channels seeking bids for at least 4,500 validators for its planned multimodal contactless open-loop payments rollout.
The open-loop service will enable users to tap contactless debit and credit cards to ride on the metro, as well as on buses, trains, trams and ferries serving the Finnish capital. It’s the second issuance of the validator contract tender request, after the first one was cancelled last year on what is believed to be a technicality.
That is believed to have delayed the project somewhat, with HSL still only running contactless open-loop pilots on some ferries and trams. The agency expects to receive the first batch of validators, after test samples, in July of this year and the last batch by the end of March 2023.
In addition to Visa- and Mastercard-branded cards and credentials in NFC wallets–and later, those branded American Express–HSL wants the validators to support closed-loop Mifare DESFire and Mifare Ultralight, as well as 1D and 2D barcodes, including QR codes. The current validators don’t support either open-loop payments or barcodes. The barcode scanners on the validators must be able to scan mobile phone screens and paper tickets.
HSL says it might need more than 4,500 validators if it decides to go to a tap-in/tap-out system across four zones in and around Helsinki, not just a tap-in service.
The Mifare technology in the procurement document indicates that HSL is not planning to change to white-label EMV technology for its closed-loop HSL cards, at least not in the foreseeable future. Customers can load their existing Mifare-based HSL cards with season tickets, day tickets and value–the latter mainly to pay for individual journeys.
HSL is taking a modular approach to building its open-loop fare-collection system, by contracting for the various parts of the system separately rather than hiring a single systems integrator to pull together the various components of the system.
The agency is already believed to have hired a payments service provider, UK- and Australia-based Littlepay, to handle fare calculations, including fare capping, and integrate with the validators and the payments processor and acquirer. HSL is also believed to have hired Denmark-based Nets as the processor and acquirer.
Helsinki is not the only Finnish city supporting open-loop payments. As Mobility Payments reported in November, at least four cities, including Helsinki, were supporting open loop at the time or were planning to roll it out. There were more cities “in the pipeline,” according to Littlepay, the payments service provider for all four projects.
Two of the other projects are also among the top five urban areas in the country, Tampere and Oulu, which went live last year. The latest agency as of November to support open loop was in Hämeenlinna, a small city 100 kilometers north of Helsinki.
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