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The prospect of wallet-free commuting in the Netherlands

30 Nov 2015Digital Society
2 minute read

Some time ago, on my way to work, I was waiting at the tram stop when I noticed I left my wallet at home. Since it contains my public transport pass, I decided I’d better go back and get it. Later that day when I sat in the train on my way to an external meeting, I couldn’t remember whether I had checked in or not. A rather uncomfortable feeling stole over me when I saw the conductor enter the compartment.

Today, we have taken a next step in reducing this kind of small discomfort. Together with all the public transport companies in the Netherlands, Translink (the company behind the public transport pass) and KPN, we have given the go-ahead for a national pilot using your smartphone for checking in and out. In the coming months, 200 people will be testing if this is as convenient as we thought it was when developing the test environment over the last few months. Such a field test will give us valuable user feedback with which we can refine and finalise the product before its mass market introduction after a successful pilot. I am quite confident this will be a feasible goal.

For Vodafone the step is a logical one. When we introduced our SmartPass last year, we predicted that the physical wallet will no longer be required by the year 2020. The news that in a short timeframe the Dutch have made a hundred million contactless payments, combined with the high penetration level of smartphones and the early adoption of new technologies in our country, substantiate that view.

With the addition of the public transport pass, the Vodafone Wallet is shaping up rather nicely. Besides the already mentioned SmartPass, we also offer a Visa creditcard with a NFC feature for making payments and the opportunity to digitally store all your loyalty and membership cards. The Wallet enables you to virtually manage those cards, safely stored on the chip of your SIM card. Furthermore, a smartphone offers a number of additional advantages. When travelling for example, you can use an app for fast and easy checking whether you have checked in or out or for viewing the costs of your latest trip.

And that leather wallet? Well, I envisage leaving it on my kitchen table more and more once I do not need to worry about carrying my pass for public transport.

Bart Hofker is Director of the Consumer Business Unit for Vodafone Netherlands.

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