Paying for journeys by bank card

TNL builds OVpay systems for RET and GVB

Starting next year, public transport users will check in and out using their debit card, credit card or mobile phone. All Dutch public transport companies are adopting a new payment method called OVpay. The Rotterdam company RET and its Amsterdam equivalent GVB are currently working hard to introduce OVpay. GVB took the first step, and TNL then took on the development and management of the systems and the technology.

OVpay is going to make paying for public transport journeys even easier for passengers, because it removes the ‘threshold’ of the OV-chipkaart (the smartcard currently in use for public transport). Checking in and out will be as simple as making a contactless payment in a shop. The travel costs will be charged to the passenger every day after the journey. The system offers all the functionalities of the OV-chipkaart, such as discount fares and season tickets.

Fast processing in the back office

From a technological perspective, paying through OVpay is a lot more complex than the current OV-chipkaart, and it comes with new requirements for the network and data processing in the back office. Currently, the client’s check in and check out status and products can be viewed immediately in the OV-chipkaart, but in the new system, all this will happen through the back office. And it has to happen really fast, to avoid queues at the turnstiles and keep passengers happy. The transition to OVpay will therefore affect almost all of the public transport companies’ business processes, from sales to invoicing and from turnstile to ticket inspection.

In cooperation with our clients RET and GVB, TNL is developing a large number of products in an agile, short-cyclical process. Including the following:

  • Feedback Settlement Server – this system will receive feedback and settlement information from the generic back office (the GBO at Translink) and will perform completeness checks for the financial process and business intelligence. This will allow GVB and RET to verify that all public transport journeys are being paid out correctly by Translink.
  • Tariff calculation – OVpay will have its own tariff system. This product will prepare the right tariffs and present them to the GBO.
  • Service Support System – dashboard functionalities for various users to present information from the GBO, including trip information, notifications, tariff changes. The system offers functionalities for online and in-person service.
  • Sales system – a system for management and client sales that will create and manage client accounts (in combination with GBO accounts), standing orders, invoicing et cetera.

Core and satellite systems

Because every transport company uses its own systems, OVpay will have specific features for each carrier. The project will therefore result in ‘core systems’ and ‘satellite systems’. The core systems offer the functionality that every carrier needs. The satellite systems, however, are carrier-specific parts that are necessary for integration. Once the core systems have been developed for RET and GVB, they will also be offered under license to other carriers. TNL can provide any satellite systems which such transport companies need for integration.

Optimal support for public transport companies

In the past, TNL contributed substantially to the development of the OV-chipkaart systems. This experience now allows us to offer optimal support to RET and GVB as they realize the required products and adjustments to the back office systems. The project is a long-term collaboration between RET, GVB and TNL, and TNL is responsible not only for the development, but also for the service and maintenance of the systems and products. The first OVpay products will be ready for testing and acceptance as soon as late 2021.

Amsterdam public transport