NFC Technology Based Models for Electronic Fare Collection Systems

NFC Technology Based Models for Electronic Fare Collection Systems


Domokos Esztergár-Kiss, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Denes Valoczi, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Attila Aba, Budapest University of Technology and Economics


The NFC provides a flexible, fast and contactless way for the passengers to purchase tickets. Technological details, several pilot projects, the elements and features of theoretical models and difficulties of the NFC based technology are discussed.


The NFC technology based system is a new development direction for electronic fare collection systems. In this article the technological details, several pilot projects, the elements and features of theoretical models and the difficulties are discussed.
The NFC provides a flexible and easy way for the passengers to buy their tickets. The main benefits of the technology are the fast and contactless connection, furthermore less energy consumption. It is the extension of the RFID (= Radio Frequency IDentification) standard. A huge benefit of the technology is the possibility of two-way communication between two active or rather an active and a passive device. The devices can read NFC-tags, can proceed payment transactions and transfer data. The security of information is based on the low range technology itself, because the data transfer is realized only when the devices are close to each other. Comparing NFC with other low range technologies, as InfraRed and BlueTooth, a big advantage is the RFID compatibility and a disadvantage is the low range.
Although several pilot projects have been proven the eligibility of NFC, the technology is not wide-spread. Since 2005 are some projects realized. The biggest success in this field is the Oyster Card in London. They also introduced the NFC based payment option. In the area of Frankfurt it is possible to pay with NFC able mobile phones for the tickets. Also in Germany the Deutsche Bahn introduced with its Touch&Travel system the automatic fare collection. Since 2012 the service is reachable for all long term journeys in the country. Also in cities in France were pilots created. For example in the city of Caen the users can get information, pay for parking and buy in the shops with NFC technology. Italian and Spanish cities use the NFC technology for purchasing and validating tickets in the public transportation. But the projects are not only limited for Europe, some in cities in the USA, South Korea and Japan already many millions of passengers can use their NFC able mobile devices to buy tickets.
Concerning the structure of an NFC based pricing, a model was described. It includes an NFC able mobile phone, an application a network operator, a merchant server, a payment provider and a transport operator. Using this model the ticketing is easier and faster. The passengers can use their devices also for route planning and can get information about possible disturbances in the network, thus also suggestions for an alternative route. The operators can calculate with less operating costs and create statistics of the usage.
The technology becomes suitable for wide-spread usage, but there are some factors, which slow down the process. The high cost and risk of infrastructural investments prevent politicians to start NFC projects. Also the protocols and standards have to be uniform and usable for long term. The different types of tickets in Europe can be a problem in case of a Europe-wide network. And the penetration of NFC able phones did not reach the critical level yet.
The NFC may be the technology of the future, with it the planning a payment of journey would be easier and more convenient. In order to create a successful NFC based fare collection system, a suitable pricing scheme and an adaptive and personalized model has to be created. Thus can be the quality of the public transportation, and the mobility of passengers enhanced.


Association for European Transport