It’s no secret that operators are facing greater competition when it comes to their traditional revenue streams. With enterprise services treading on the toes of messaging and voice services, operators must think more creatively than ever before on how to generate revenue. Seeing areas such as transportation as a monetization opportunity is unexplored territory for many MNOs but there is huge potential down this particular less travelled road.
The challenges of transportation
Transportation in cities is far from a simple proposition. There is a huge amount of fragmentation which can often make navigating it a headache for locals and a puzzle for visitors. Although some cities have taken huge steps forward in addressing this problem, using public transport is still no picnic for most.
There isn’t a city in the world that offers a single one-size fits all transport option. Getting from A to B in the most efficient way possible might involve a combination of taxis, metros and buses. Parking during peak periods can be a nightmare, while large events, which put pressure on transport infrastructure, have an impact on how locals may wish to use the transport system. Add into this already confusing landscape alternative transportation methods like park-and-ride, car-sharing and bike & scooter rentals and there is a huge opportunity for MNOs to begin to offer Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS).
MaaS takes a city’s disjointed and vast array of transport options and combines them into a single mobility service, accessible on demand. Users can access a one-stop shop of information and payment options for public transport, car or bike-sharing, taxi or car rental in any combinations. It uses a single application and payment channel to smooth the process of traveling in cities with easily accessible information and payments for even the most complicated of journeys.
It is easy to see the appeal of MaaS as it offers huge simplification when it comes to travel. Rather than looking at each stage of a journey, passengers simply look at traveling A to B and the service takes care of payment and planning offering a more fluid and integrated experience. So, how do we go about successfully delivering MaaS? When it comes to combining location tracking, information delivery, payment channels and pulling existing business models into a single service, it is operators that are perfectly positioned to offer the unification needed to deliver on this vision.
The payment problem
One of the biggest challenges a MaaS offering faces is managing payments. It seeks to remove the obstacle of multiple payment points in a journey for the end-customer, but it must be able to successfully collect payment for every service provider, for every journey undertaken.
Operators can easily access a ready-built solution to this problem in the form of Direct Carrier Billing. It is a secure and well-established system that can be easily customized to suit the set-up of any MaaS offering. Not only this, but it is simple for both end-users and transport providers alike to make and collect payments. The end result is a tailored pay-as-you-go offering to hugely simplify the payment element of city transport and a huge step in the direction of the unified transportation system that is the end goal of MaaS.
A secure and reliable omnichannel service
The value operators can add goes beyond simply payment collection. A true MaaS service must offer more and operators are primed to do this. Firstly, let’s look at security.
A MaaS offering must not only offer convenience, it must offer security assurances. Operators are again well placed to deliver this with access to Mobile Identity Solutions. These are verification tools based on the information mobile operators have about their subscribers. Mobile Identity matches the user’s phone number with the mobile operator databases and verifies the user with minimal disruption. It can authenticate each payment or app install via Silent Mobile Verification, SIM swap checks to ensure identity of the user and protect them from fraud and hacks, enhancing security without compromising the service.
Beyond security, operators are in the perfect position to deliver the omnichannel experience that will make a truly value-add MaaS offering. Users can choose how to communicate, via WhatsApp, SMS, email but operators are also able to offer a failover system if a user can’t receive a notification via their preferred channel. Not only this, but MNOs have ready access to Rich Communication Services (RCS) used by 403 million mobile subscribers and growing. This feature-rich form of communication allows operators to use the information they have and deliver multi-media, relevant content to further enhance the journeys of their customers. MNOs have access to a range of tools that make them the ideal choice to deliver a MaaS option that not only smooths the transportation process but adds significant value for end users.
MaaS is not just a concept, but a proposition that we are already starting to see become a reality. PLAY, the biggest telco company in Poland, is already successfully delivering MaaS services. Electrical moped rentals in cities in Poland can be charged to mobile plans, it has teamed up with several partners to make it easy to buy tickets or pay for parking in more than 100 cities, as well as allowing toll road costs when driving on the country's motorways to be added to subscribers monthly mobile bills. This demonstrates what is already possible and how MNOs can practically apply the MaaS principles to smooth transportation in cities and add another string to their bow when it comes to revenue.
MaaS is the next step in transportation and with it comes a new set of challenges that must be overcome to deliver the convenient transport system it promises. When it comes to delivering this, MNOs are ready built with the infrastructure, systems, and reach in place to deliver this in a way that works for transport providers and end-users alike. As operators look to expand the range of non-traditional revenue streams, those that see the MaaS opportunity and capitalize on it will see significant rewards.
Zoran Vasiljev, CEO, Centili Group