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Cartes 2008, contactless, prepaid and transport strikes

So, Cartes is over for another year. Of course, transport strikes featured along the way, but then, it wouldn't be Cartes without them, would it? The exhibition itself was awash with high-tech printers, card printing equipment and hopeful lone hawkers from around the world with innovative ideas. MasterCard and Visa aside, the card/chip manufacturers and the large PoS vendors seemed the busiest.

The main things I took from the conference this year were...:

There is a real drive towards the marriage of transportation and the contactless card. The advantages of open loop are become increasingly obvious to transport operators and they like the fact that the infrastructure can be used for mobile as the next step. Trains, buses and ferries were all discussed.

Market research is no substitute for real experience. A banker used the axiom: ‘If you were to ask someone whether they would like to fly to the moon, they would answer yes; strap them to a rocket and they may change their mind'. Bankers need real experience of technology so business plans and strategies can be based on reality, not theory. Based on this premise, we can expect more trials of contactless and NFC in Europe.

Prepaid is another innovation that is firmly on the horizon. But, there are a number of issues that need to be worked out first. Prepaid is a highly segmented market that will require many different niche solutions with complex systems to meet the various needs. If it is limited to the unbanked and gift sector, it will never be successful.

And my final learning is never trust the French transport system around the time of Cartes.

Until next year...



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