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Digital payments and Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas)

Digital payments and Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas)

Published: 28 February 2023 • Reading time: 6 minutes

Urban mobility is one of the areas in which the concept of product ownership (of the means of transport in this case) is giving way to leveraging services and benefiting from its advantages, as we can see happening in other sectors, like gaming and software. In fact, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS or also smart mobility) represents the set of services related to public and private mobility, provided by several suppliers and accessible through a single platform. We are all in some way accustomed with these new systems, that are now becoming more and more popular across different countries.

Thanks to the mediation of dedicated tools, users can book and pay for car and bike sharing services and other forms of transportation such as taxis or ride hailing, gaining access to a more efficient and sustainable urban mobility.

From the point of view of payment collection, Mobility-as-a-Service services require solutions capable of handling payments through platforms that allow transactions to be finalised without friction, while guaranteeing reliability, reduced timeframes and a user experience in line with the expectations of its users.

Before delving into the ideal payment methods for this sector, it is necessary to outline the Mobility-as-a-Service scenario, its growth and what steps private individuals and institutions are taking to promote its development.

MaaS projects in Europe

At a global level, the concept of Mobility-as-a-Service is still in its infancy, but in some countries there are projects, some of which are now well established, that make interesting case studies that can be replicated.

In Europe, in 2020 the European Commission via the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency - which was replaced in April 2021 by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) - promoted the MaaS4EU (Mobility as a Service for Europe) project to provide quantifiable evidence, frameworks and tools to remove barriers and enable a cooperative and interconnected single EU transport market for the Mobility as a Service concept.

Looking at individual countries, it is Finland that has taken the first steps in this field, with the 'Future Mobility Finland' programme, part of the Finnish National Programme for Sustainable Growth in the Transport Sector. Moreover, MaaS Global, which is based in Helsinki, has created an infrastructure through its app that is already available in some of Finland's major cities and in other countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom and Japan.

In 2016 in Germany, in the city of Hanover, PTO ÜSTRA Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe AG and the Greater Hanover Transport Association (GVH) launched a new service whose main feature is an integrated registration, navigation, booking and billing process for a range of public transport, taxi and car-sharing services.

These are just a few of the European-wide initiatives that are defining this new mobility that is set to transform the very concept of urban transport.

What about the UK?

When we look at the UK shared mobility market - including flights, ride-hailing & taxi services, long-distance bus travel and train tickets that are booked online and offline as well as car rental hires, car-sharing services, bike-sharing services, e-scooter-sharing and public transportation - it is projected to reach £53.21billion in 2023, with a steady growth expected to reach £54.00bn by 2027.

After a strong decline in 2020 (£20.70bn compared to almost £46bn in 2019) due to the coronavirus pandemic, the shared mobility market share has seen a steep rise in 2021 and 2022 (respectively £25bn and £38bn).¹

In this scenario, when we only take into consideration shared car rides, the revenue segment is projected to reach $15,930.00 million in 2023, with an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 3.09%, resulting in a projected market volume of $17,990.00m by 2027.² While for bike sharing, we are looking at a revenue expected to reach $62.44m in 2023, with a projected annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 6.50%, resulting in a projected market volume of $80.32m by 2027.³

Payments for Smart mobility

Sustainable mobility, smart mobility and sharing are some of the aspects of a new way of thinking about transportation that are generating growing turnover volumes. According to a report published by Statista⁴, by 2026 the market for transport services worldwide will be worth almost $1,750 billion. Among the most innovative forms of mobility that will contribute to growth are:

  • Ride hailing and taxis
    $386 billion
  • Bike sharing
    $16.5 billion
  • Car sharing
    $11.5 billion
  • E-scooter sharing
    $3 billion

Research by Kaleido Intelligence⁵ has predicted that in 2025, integrated in-vehicle payments alone will account for 35% of total payments for electric car recharging, parking and refuelling and will correspond to approximately $1.6 trillion, with a CAGR of 136% in the period 2020-2025.

One of the drivers of Mobility as a Service is the technology aspect, which is crucial in many respects, not least the user experience, especially in the payment phase. Payment platforms must be able to handle different forms of payment, varying in platform, type and customer experience:

  • Small-value payments (micro-payments)
    These are transactions for small transfers, e.g. public transport or electric scooters and mopeds.
  • Recurring payments
    Car parks, motorway tolls and vehicle rentals are just a few examples of payments that occur periodically against subscriptions.
  • Contactless mobile payments
    In case of public transport access or transit payments (e.g. motorway toll barriers), payment platforms must offer a reliable and fast user experience, typical of mobile wallet payments via smartphones or wearable devices.

Today, the technology for managing transactions in these scenarios exists and is effective when integrated correctly according to the specific use case:

  • Smart POS
    These are evolved POS capable of managing offline and online collections, leveraging the opportunities offered by omnichannel customer journeys, also through dedicated APIs capable of making the terminal communicate with corporate systems (e.g. ERP, cash systems)
  • Digital Wallets
    There are hundreds of them in the world and, especially if they are capable of handling contactless payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, they are crucial in offering immediate payment experiences.
  • Ecommerce gateways
    They are the typical platforms for handling online transactions but, depending on the purchase path, can be the ideal tool for mobile payments, especially when accepting alternative payment methods.

So, from a technological point of view, solutions exist but are often integrated by themselves, by channel and without the necessary coordination for the Mobility as a Service context, which requires cross-channel and multi-supplier communication, as described at beginning of the insight.

Payment orchestration and Mobility as a Service

The concept of MaaS can thus be simplified as an actual hub that connects a series of transportation services according to standardised processes and infrastructures to offer the user community an efficient experience in line with their expectations.

The ideal solution is the most recent technological innovation in the field of digital collections: payment orchestration. Thanks to a platform capable of coordinating various payment and collection solutions according to the needs of merchants and their customers, it is possible to build articulated platforms in which service providers, collection flows and payment methods can be potentially infinite, while offering automatic reconciliation and consistent reporting.

Payment orchestration, concept that we explored in depth in our recent whitepaper ‘Payment Orchestration: unlocking cost-effective Ecommerce for merchants', in its most advanced version can manage digital ecosystems that combine online and offline touch-points of multiple operators - from an online ticketing portal to an electric vehicle charging station - while managing all financial flows and crediting a multitude of accounts.


Shared Mobility - United Kingdom |Statista, 2023


Shared Rides - United Kingdom |Statista, 2023


Bike-sharing - United Kingdom | Statista, 2023


Mobility Services Report 2021 | Statista


Frictionless Mobility Payments 2021 | Kaleido Intelligence

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