Cubic Introduces Nextaccount: the next generation of contactless AFC systems

Cubic Transportation Systems, a leading integrator of intelligent transport systems and services, has introduced Nextaccount, the first of several new products in Cubic’s solution systems portfolio for the next generation of fully integrated Automated Fare Collection (AFC) systems. 

The new platform provides the NFC and contactless smart card interface and transit fare processing engine that enable transit operators to give travelers the convenience of using an account to pay for travel or using open payment fare media, such as contactless bank-issued credit, debit and prepaid contactless smart cards, as well as transit-issued smart cards, as their ticket.

Nextaccount will also pave the way for mobile payment and ticketing solutions in transit, giving travelers the ability to pay transit fares directly at the point of travel with Near Field Communications-equipped (NFC) mobile phones.  Further, Nextaccount will collect payment from any other smart card-based “secure token” that is linked to an account such as transit-issued contactless smart cards or employer and student ID cards that conform to the ISO 14443 contactless standard.

 “The transit industry is on the verge of a transformation, and Nextaccount creates the ability for transit agencies to continue to reduce their cost of fare collection while improving the traveler and customer experience,” said Matt Cole, Cubic’s senior vice president of Strategy and Business Development.  “This development reflects Cubic’s commitment to leading the evolution of the fare collection industry.”

In traditional smart card-based fare payment systems, the transit value resides in a contactless chip inside the transit card, and transactions are managed and tracked on the card.  With account-based payment, the transit value resides in a transit account in Nextaccount, and is accessed via a digital signature read from a transit card by the fare payment system.

Adoption of an account-based system also enables open payment and lets consumers directly use their bank-issued contactless cards to pay for trips.  In this way consumers will pay for transit services just like they pay for any other retail purchase, using their contactless credit or debit cards as they board buses or pass through metro turnstiles, eliminating the extra step of buying a transit fare card or token.

For transit agencies who don’t want to issue their own fare cards, moving to open payment reduces the need to procure, encode, distribute, and support literally millions of magnetic tickets or contactless smart cards. It will also reduce the amount of cash collected, reduce cash handling costs and the associated infrastructure investments, and reduce fraud and fraud management costs.

The Nextaccount solution evolved from Cubic’s signature Nextfare platform now in use in many of the world’s major transit systems. Nextfare was the first fare collection system compliant with the industry standards that govern open architecture.  Nextaccount can operate in parallel with an existing Nextfare system or as a standalone solution and provides transit agencies with an easy upgrade path to acceptance of open payments and other account-based instruments.

Nextaccount is also the newest product in the Nextcity solutions portfolio, Cubic’s vision of mobility in the future. Through integration of regional transport payments and traveler data, Nextcity will deliver personalized proactive information to citizens so they can make informed travel choices. Nextcity does not require the addition of new infrastructure, instead leveraging existing assets to manage cross-modal demand and set regional pricing across modes.

With more than 20 years of contactless smart card payment experience in the transit industry, Cubic has active open payment projects at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Transport for London (TfL), Vancouver and the Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) system, the first in the world to use transit-branded all contactless Visa prepaid cards.

“The Smart Card Alliance’s transit industry members are actively focused on transitioning to account-based and open payment models, and eventually mobile payment that will utilize the same infrastructure as contactless bank card systems,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the multi-industry non-profit educational organization “Cubic’s efforts to smooth this transition are tightly aligned with the direction the market is headed.”

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