Unicard acquires smart ticketing specialist

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Unicard CEO Sean Dickinson

Specialist provider of smart ticketing and payment solutions to the public and commercial transport sector Unicard has acquired fellow smart ticketing provider Ecebs from Visa in a transaction that Unicard says will enable it to offer a more comprehensive range of solutions in the UK and abroad. The move sees Unicard add contactless EMV to its solutions portfolio, which includes a smart ticketing platform, supporting both commercial and concessionary fare schemes, alongside a suite of ITSO, ABT (Account Based Ticketing), MaaS (Mobility-as-a-Service), and rail ticketing solutions.

Unicard says the addition of the contactless EMV solution, which allows passengers to tap in and out using a payment card, will enable the business to directly respond to needs of local authorities and transport operators, and will put it at the centre of the rapidly growing smart mobility sector, assisting directly with the deployment of multi-operator, multi-token, multi-modal services across trains, buses, e-scooters and other forms of transport.

The company says the expansion will cement its position in the UK market for smartcard ticketing and concessionary travel; Unicard’s solutions have been adopted by over 70 local and regional authorities in England and Scotland, including Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Transport Scotland, Merseytravel and Solent Transport, as well as the provision of central back office for Rail Delivery Group. With its new acquisition, Unicard can now add Transport for Wales and, significantly, Transport for London (TfL) to the list.

Unicard says it aims to work with new customer Nottingham City Council to help support its Future Transport Zone (FTZ) ambitions, where the city council could benefit from its experience with the rollout of MaaS for TfWM’s Swift travel scheme, and the MaaS and rail accreditation elements of Solent Transport’s Breeze travel app.

Strengthened position

CEO of Unicard Sean Dickinson explained: “Acquiring Ecebs has strengthened Unicard’s position in the smart travel market, and significantly extends our capabilities and footprint. We’re committed to delivering accessible, inclusive and integrated ticketing solutions for both our new and existing customers, while also helping them deliver new, innovative smart travel schemes.

“Our three guiding principles in approaching the acquisition were about selecting the right partner, ensuring continuity of business for ours, and their customers, whilst maintaining our reputation as a partner renowned for its market innovation, close working relationships and importantly, customer care. Unicard has a strong heritage in the industry, but it’s important for us to retain Ecebs’ expert knowledge and market insight to continue providing high quality products and services to all our customers and their passengers.”

General Manager of Ecebs Russell Mccullagh added: “Unicard is a well-respected business with shared interests and a similar culture. We’re confident that both companies’ customers can expect to see continuous innovation and the ongoing delivery of high-quality services, offering real flexibility and a superior experience for the travelling public.”

Unicard has also signed a commercial agreement with Visa to use its global payments platform Cybersource, allowing the company to offer its services across international borders, though it stressed that its immediate focus remains on expanding its footprint in the UK.

Founded 20 years ago, Unicard is headquartered in the UK and has a technical development team based in Bulgaria. It processes over two billion secure transactions a year and supports over 7.5 million smart cardholders around the UK.