GlobalPlatform Made Simple Guide: On-Card Transactions within the Transportation
Today’s public transportation ticketing process requires several steps—including
interfacing with a ticketing agent or kiosk, conducting a separate payment
card transaction, and the issuance of a paper ticket. Although there are very good
reasons for this multi-step process, including widely installed legacy
systems and the need to ensure that transactions are secure, this system can be
cumbersome – particularly for foreigners in a new country that are
unfamiliar with the procedure. There is considerable scope for this process to be
streamlined via an on-card transaction.
What is an on-card transaction?
An on-card transaction refers to a contactless ticketing transaction method using a
pre-installed transit application in either a near field communication
(NFC)-enabled mobile device or a contactless payment card. By using an on-card
transaction the user can pay for their fare and access the transport network
efficiently via an interaction that takes place between a payment application and a
banking application, hosted on the Secure Element (SE) of the
user’s mobile device.
The on-card transaction solution allows transit and payment applications to interact
with the SE, while crucially limiting the impact to the public
transport operators (PTOs) legacy infrastructure. It enables passengers to access a
transit network with no changes required to gates, ticket validators or
the fare collection system.
Conforming to existing gate processing procedures is important because it helps the
transit authority ensure performance and maximize passenger flow at the
gate. The additional time related to the banking transaction is performed prior to
accessing the transit network while the real-time transaction is
performed using the transportation technology.
The impact to the bank’s back office is also limited: at most, the kiosk infrastructure is
updated if online authorizations and / or transit application
loading are needed.
How does an on-card transaction work on an NFC-enabled mobile device?
A payment application and a transit application are downloaded and hosted on the SE
within a user’s mobile device. The user selects their fare via the
transit operator’s user interface (UI) or the banking service UI; this triggers a
transaction between the two applications, which in turn, is authorized by
the user’s bank and the transportation authority systems. The transit application
triggers the fare update and the user taps their phone at the gate or
ticket validator, granting them access to the transit network.
The transaction can be initiated by either the payment application or the transit
application, with the same end-result, the fare update being activated.
Table 1: On-card transaction flows when using an NFC-
How does an On-Card Transaction work on a Contactless Payment Card?
The user would be required to possess a contactless payment card that has a pre-
installed transit application. As with the mobile device method, both
applications must reside on the passenger’s payment card. By using standard
GlobalPlatform commands, the transit application could be loaded onto the
payment card post-issuance at a transit kiosk.
In order to purchase a fare, the passenger taps the payment card in a kiosk that allows
the user to interact with the applications. As with the mobile
device method, the transaction can be initiated by either the transit application or the
payment application. The passenger then pays for the fare prior to
entering the transit network.
Table 2: On-card transaction flows when using a contactless payment card with
pre-installed transit application
What is the role of GlobalPlatform?
GlobalPlatform already offers all required technical features to implement on-card
transactions. The critical requirement for an on-card transaction is the
ability to get access to a service offered by another application. This requires
communication between two applications within the same contactless card or
SE, a feature enabled by the Global Services APIs described in the GlobalPlatform Card
What benefits will this bring to the industry?
On-card transactions allow transit and payment applications to perform their
respective functions inside a SE, while limiting the impact on the PTOs legacy
infrastructure with no alterations to gates, ticket validators or the fare collection
GlobalPlatform plays a collaborative role within the marketplace and its specifications
can support applications residing on the same platform but from
different markets. Service providers, therefore, don’t need to adapt their business
model, in terms of security, for different audiences and environments.
As in the case of on-card transactions, this saves money and time to market.
An on-card transaction not only has the potential to streamline the transaction time for
transportation users, but can offer value to other markets such as
payment and loyalty, where two applications benefit from direct interaction and
To find out more about on-card transactions, read GlobalPlatform’s
‘On-Chip Services: Seamlessly Performing Payment Transactions within the Existing
Transportation Ticketing Infrastructure’