Finland’s capital rolls out multimodal contactless payments

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UK-based Littlepay, which specialises in payment infrastructure for transport and mobility providers, and currently processes payments for more than 200 operators in the UK, Ireland and Europe, has announced the launch of open loop payments on public transport in Finland’s capital Helsinki and its second largest urban area, the city of Tampere. Tap-to-pay can now be used on selected ferries and trams in Helsinki and on buses operated by Nysse in Tampere, after the company won a contract with Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) and TVV lippu- ja maksujärjestelmä Oy (LMJ) to enable contactless payments on public transport in the capital and other Finnish cities.

HSL said its key objective in modernising its ticketing and payment system is to improve the experience of commuting and leisure travel, and that quick, easy and safe contactless payments are expected to be popular with locals and tourists who already use tap-to-pay in retail and hospitality.

Mari Flink, Customer Experience and Sales Director of Department at HSL said: “We believe our riders will appreciate the convenience of the new systems we are putting in place. On public transport, it’s so simple to tap a contactless card or device on a reader, rather than queuing to buy a travel card or ticket, or downloading a transit app.”

There is already strong contactless payment adoption in the Nordics, which has accelerated in the last year. Data from paytech leader Nets shows that the ratio of contactless card payments rose significantly in the region during the pandemic – from around 56% at the start of 2020 to 74% in November. In Finland, there was growth from 64% to 70% over that period.

Petri Carpén, Director at Nets, said: “The Nordic region has long been at the forefront when it comes to contactless payment. Although the trend was clear when we entered 2020, the change in consumer behaviour over the last year has been unusually rapid.”

Littlepay said the fare collection systems being used in Helsinki and Tampere are an example of its modular approach. Both use Littlepay for transit payment processing and Nets for card scheme connectivity. However, they vary in their choice of integrated hardware. In Helsinki, PPT Excellence validators handle card taps, while in Tampere, hardware is provided by Pusatec and Logos, taking advantage of the ability to plug-and-play different validators and other equipment.

For the Tampere deployment, Littlepay explained that it has enhanced its fare capping rules to introduce zonal, time-based capping which allows the transit agency to configure fare caps depending on the time a passenger is travelling and the zones they enter during the journey.

The company’s new fare inspection app, Littlepay Inspect, will also be used for the first time. The app is compatible with any Android, NFC-enabled device and removes the need for separate hardware to check a contactless payment method’s validity for travel. It supports inspection on and off vehicles, automatically checking cards against a list of known taps.

Kira Hellstrom, Project Manager at HSL, added: “Littlepay’s experience in the field is valuable for us, as contactless payment in transit is a complex and strictly-regulated area. We appreciate their good knowledge, experience and partnership in our journey towards contactless.”

Amin Shayan, CEO of Littlepay, added: “It is great to see two cities go live in Finland. We thank HSL and LMJ for entrusting us to deliver open loop payments and we look forward to expanding the system across their networks, encompassing more transport modes into a unified solution. The Nordic region is increasingly cashless and we anticipate strong adoption.”