It is now more and more familiar to travel thanks to its mobile phone by train, buses and other means of transport. But what is M-ticketing and what are the best examples of this technology?

A particular type of electronic ticket

In its white paper, the Global Association of mobile carriers (GSMA) defines briefly Mobile Ticketing as a “virtual ticket on mobile phone”.
Karabi Bandyopadhyay is a famous Indian PhD and Mobile commerce expert. She defines mobile ticketing as “the process that let mobile phone users to buy a ticket for various events and travels through their devices”.
Collaborative knowledge website Wikipedia comes with other details: “Mobile ticketing is the process in which consumers can order, pay, obtain et make validate its ticket anywhere and at any time using a mobile phone and other mobile devices”.
Mobile Ticketing would is thus made with three big key elements: the order of the ticket, the transaction, and the validation of it.

Smartphone applications:

According to the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), “an application is a software made specifically for a platform, the operating system permitting the distribution of the application”.
Smartphone applications are one of the most privileged M-ticket distribution canal from public or private transportation actors.
For instance, the smartphone application created by the SNCF, “voyage SNCF” is the app that generates the most of tickets in France.
The bigger perk of mobile apps is the ability to use one or various technologies: QR Code, RFID, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, etc.
For the transportation network using a smartphone application:

  • It makes the transportation company able to address a population familiar with technologies that is currently growing.
  • It is a strong communication and marketing tool: the application is customized with the transportation network logos and colours and let spreading complete information as a website would do it.
  • It can interact with other materials included in the device: compass, geotracking, messenging, camera for instance.

Capture d'écran de l'application M-ticket du réseau Tadao de Lens permettant deux sortes de validation
Screenshot of the Lens Tadao M-ticket application

However, a smartphone application is limited by:

  • The need of a good internet connexion (3G, H+, 4G)
  • The obligation for the users to download the app on the device
  • The obligation for the user to create a personal account and to give bank details

SMS Ticket

The SMS ticket use the direct carrier billing: you pay your ticket at the end of the month on your carrier bill.
It lets you buy a mobile ticket by only sending an SMS to a particular number. It is already well established in other countries (Italy and Eastern countries) but has been launched for the first time in France in 2014, in an overtaxed version and launched in a regular way in 2017.

Screenshot of the SMS ticket edited on the Rouen transportation network by sending V1 to the 93 000
Screenshot of the SMS ticket edited on the Rouen transportation network by sending V1 to the 93 000

For the transportation network using SMS ticket:

  • It reaches nearly 90% of the population that is taking transportation thanks to the simplicity of the system (including older people for instance).
  • It addresses even occasional passengers as there is no need to download something or to create an account.

However, here are some of the backlashes for this technology:

  • Mobile carriers take a little part of the income because of their commissions.
  • Limited amount of transactions per month.
  • Fewer production of data compared with mobile apps.


Mobile Open Payment

How open payment apply
How open payment apply

The last existing form of Mobile ticketing is the open payment that consists in the payment through a sim card included in the phone and containing bank details.