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Masabi to use $2M in funding to ramp up mobile ticketing

Masabi, a developer of mobile ticketing technology for the transport sector, has secured $2 million in funding from mobile technology venture capital firm m8 Capital.

The investment will be used to support commercial deployments of Masabi’s mobile ticketing systems with British rail companies and to expand operations into other geographies. Masabi’s “Ticket Machine in your Pocket” technology enables secure, usable ticket purchase and display on the majority of common handsets, as well as high-end smartphones.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan  Butcher interviewed Ben Whitaker, CEO of Masabi, London. Here is what he had to say:

How will Masabi invest the new funding?
We will be using the funding to expand our technical and commercial teams to support the rollouts with British rail operators and replicate our success in this market across other sectors and geographies.

What is Masabi’s growth strategy going forward?
Standing on the shoulders of giants: Masabi does not provide an end-to-end vertical solution—we are specialists at providing an excellent mobile interface, ultra-secure payments as well as ticketing and transport know-how.

As such, we rely on partnerships with the established large-scale transport-system integrators that are experts in providing reliable, accredited and time-proven hardware, services and support every day of the year.

For example, in Britain we already supply the transport operators through and Atos Origin.

We are actively engaged in securing relationships with other transport integrators in the United States, Europe and beyond going forward in order to continue to grow the business.

What is the current state of mobile phone transport ticketing? What is its potential going forward?
The current state of mobile transport ticketing is that there are small proprietary projects, which sell limited product types, in a fragmented manner, often with tricky payment or registration mechanisms that keep them as the preserve of the early adopter only.

To date they have not received any significant marketing investment, either.

The early deployments have often been buy-on-Web-send-to-phone, which obviously means commuters can’t buy tickets when they are on the move.

The new systems have instant payments, avoid lengthy sign-up procedures and are client-based, so a compelling application is installed on the phone which makes the experience highly user-friendly.

The new systems also bring faster scanning at the gates, rivalling the speed of smartcards like London’s Oyster system.

Mobile ticketing has the potential to change the face of travel far more than the Internet has done, through being ever present, and a source of travel information and ticket purchase that is accessible to the customer from whatever moment they realize that they need to travel, and letting them travel without the uncertainty of queuing at the station.

In Britain, the mobile ticketing machine also gives travellers access to the cheaper Internet fares and the sanity preserving reservation of seats.

While it has been possible to purchase train tickets online for some time, most tickets are still bought at the station where long queues can be a problem, particularly at peak travel times.

Masabi’s solution enables tickets to be bought on almost any mobile phone whilst on the move, and is designed to be easy to use, even for those who have never used a mobile application before.

The application allows commuters to use their phone to search, select and securely purchase tickets using a credit or debit card.

Tickets can either be displayed on the phone’s screen via secure barcode technology, or traditional printed tickets can be picked up from the train station.

Rail operators have already commenced the rollout of bar code scanners on trains and at stations, with several major routes expected to be fully covered by the end of the year.