Media & Resource Center  > White Papers & Guides

> Back to Made Simple Guides

GlobalPlatform Made Simple Guide: On-Card Transactions within the Transportation Ticketing Infrastructure


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- enabled phone


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 Specification.

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 system.

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 authentication.

To find out more about on-card transactions, read GlobalPlatform’s

‘On-Chip Services: Seamlessly Performing Payment Transactions within the Existing Transportation Ticketing Infrastructure’

white paper.