Article Highlights

Key Takeaway:

Helsinki transit agency HSL has awarded a contract for at least 4,500 validators it plans to use for its rollout of open-loop payments across  its transport network. U.S.-Conduent is believed to have won the contract.

Key Data:

HSL awarded the €12.5 million (US$13.4 million) contract last month, but has not yet announced the deal. Plans call for the first batch of 500 validators to be delivered by the end of next month and all units must be supplied by around the end of March 2023.

Organizations Mentioned:

HSL (Helsinki)
Conduent
Access-IS
• Pusatec

Helsinki transit agency HSL has awarded a contract for at least 4,500 validators it plans to use for its rollout of open-loop payments across  its transport network.

The agency actually awarded the €12.5 million (US$13.4 million) contract last month, but has not yet announced the deal. Plans call for the first batch of 500 validators to be delivered by the end of next month and all units must be supplied by around the end of March 2023.

The notice of award, which appeared in the European Commission’s Tenders Electronic Daily, did not say which validator supplier won the contract. Sources told Mobility Payments, however, that U.S.-based Conduent had won it, though neither HSL nor Conduent immediately confirmed that. Conduent later confirmed to Mobility Payments that it had won the tender. Such suppliers as UK-based Access-IS, part of HID Global; and Finland-based Pusatec; were among the other vendors bidding on the deal.

Conduent, a business services outsourcing company, said in April it plans to sell or spin off its transportation business unit. The unit provides such technology for transit agencies as back-office systems, including account-based ticketing, and validators for closed- and open-loop projects, among other products. The unit also includes a large road-tolling systems operation, as well as parking technology. A spokesman told Mobility Payments earlier this month that there were no updates to the separation plan.

Conduent has said that as it pursues the separation plans, the transportation business would “continue to deliver solutions to a large and stable client base of global transportation agencies in more than 20 countries.”

HSL, which is taking a modular approach to procuring its new fare-collection system, is buying the minimum 4,500 validators to cover its metro, bus, train, tram and ferry operations in and around the Finnish capital.

The tender request resulting in the contract was issued in January 2022. It was the second validator RFP supporting contactless payments from HSL. 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.

In addition to Visa- and Mastercard-branded cards and credentials in NFC wallets–and later, those branded American Express–HSL specified that the validators must also 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.

With the modular approach, HSL is 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 and integrate with the validators with the acquirer, as Mobility Payments reported in January. 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, smaller cities are also supporting the technology or planning to do so, using a centralized procurement agency.

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