I went today to a meeting to discuss getting the new smartcard tickets for Victoria’s Public Transport network into newsagencies. This will soon replace the current metropolitan ticketing system, Metcard, as well as V/Line tickets for trains and coaches, and ticketing on major bus lines in Traralgon, Moe, Morwell, Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo.
I do confess that when I heard Bill Express dropped out because of the low margins offered, I thought what is the point of all of it? So I went in with low expectations. That was good. If I expect little I am rarely disappointed. The only reason I went is that I have to go as for many of our clients these transport tickets are important. So off I went.
When I came to the meeting the VANA representative was there together with the ANF representative who had sent their transport expert down from NSW were waiting. We started the meeting and as always my competitor came late again.
Now as explained to us these products are a bit different to the existing system. You don’t buy a ticket that the consumer gets is a smartcard. Instead of a consumer buying a ticket for $9 for the day, they put whatever they like on the smartcard say $50, and whatever trip they make, the transport authority takes off the fee owing for that trip. You see here one of the main advantages to the transport authority immediately is fewer consumer transactions. Here they are doing instead of five transactions, one transaction. Hold that thought!
Whether it will be used for other types of transactions is unclear but probably it will also work as a smartcard. If so it will be directly competing with the new Telstra and NAB system coming out early next year which works through VISA. That one much swisher as all the consumer does is wave their mobile phone over a merchant’s contactless reader. Yes soon our mobile phones will be a VISA card.
Once the meeting started we ran though the technology needs. They offered us several choices. The one that we preferred is the direct link into the P.O.S. software. All you do is call up a product in the cash register, put in a price and our software handles it just like any other product. The delay we were told would be somewhere between .3 to 1.5 second. I like the idea of having a hotkey that when you press on the register and $20 goes into the smart card.
Soon however the meeting drifted to the financial issue! Note this is all early days and it could all change tomorrow but at the meeting they stated they wanted daily sweeps of the merchant’s bank account. Also, the proposed margins were going to drop for Met tickets from about 4.8% a transaction to 12 cents. I think it is a much higher drop than that! To quote my example above merchants now make 5 commissions at 0.44 for a $9 transaction =$2.20 now they make 12 cents.
I was thinking to myself, is it any wonder Bill Express pulled out? However, this question is not for me but my clients individually to decide.
Anyway if you want to know more details check out their site.