Cashless Bus Tickets

Robbing bus drivers of their takings from bus ticket sales is apparently a big problem in parts of Sweden, so much so that they stopped selling tickets on buses. But now they’ve switched to an sms based ticket system¬†where punters get sent an sms with an expiry time built-in.

I assume this is going to lead to a spate of bus hijackings, where robbers will steal everyone’s mobile phone, as passengers are guaranteed to¬†have one¬†if they’re¬†on the bus.

That aside, such small experiments as these are pointing the way to the future, where the mobiles will increasingly become the standard way of paying for small transactions and perhaps larger ones too, until cash becomes a thing of the past. Certainly, I think the days of coins are numbered in developed nations and in no longer than 10 years, if still in circulation at all, will be about as useful as a groat or florin today.

The only real question that remains as far as I’m concerned is will operators claim a slice of this high volume, low margin pie, or will they allow a cheeky little upstart to steal it from under their noses by maintaining their extraordinarily high cut of the transactions they enable via premium sms. It’s all very well making hay while the sun shines in a business context, but I think the clouds are coming and they need to seriously think about reducing margins before it’s too late.

One of the lessons of the last 10 years is that when change comes, it comes mind buggeringly quickly. So, now’s the time to start taking¬†a fairer share and justifying their place in the value chain.

Do I have any particular payment alternative in mind? Nothing specific, but I can feel the changes in the ecosystem. Next year will be a watershed for mobile payments in the same way that 2006 has been the time when mobile marketing finally really started to happen.

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo