A Costa Rican bank manages the deployment of the transit payment system

The Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) has selected the payment service provider (PSP) Littlepay to facilitate EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) contactless payments as part of the implementation of the National Electronic Payment System for public transport (SINPE-TP) . .

The infrastructure will allow users to pay in transit with their bank card for à la carte journeys. Littlepay will process open payments within Costa Rica’s new contactless public transport payment ecosystem. The project will operate with a multi-modal, multi-acquirer and interoperable business model and provide nationwide coverage.

Increase the use of public transport

With a centralized infrastructure, the government of Costa Rica aims to make the collection of fares in public transport more efficient and safer. By improving the passenger experience, he hopes to promote greater use of public transport in the country.

The back-office system will be connected to Littlepay’s payment platform and will receive passenger transaction (tap) data made on board the bus and train service that operates in the center of the country.

The cost of the journeys is calculated on the basis of tariff models defined by the national transport authorities. The SINPE-TP will ensure the proper collection of tariffs and the distribution of revenue among operators.

The system will initially launch with fixed fares, but due to its conceptual design, it can be configured to apply fare caps and discounts, as well as other fare models that Costa Rican transport services may need at the time. coming. It is also designed to process payments with QR codes and mobile wallets.

“The forward-thinking approach taken by the Costa Rican government and the BCCR will deliver the interoperability and seamless travel experience that so many cities around the world yearn for”

In addition to improving the payment experience for public transport users, the Costa Rican government provides a number of benefits for transport operators:

  • operational cost savings by reducing collection volume
  • increased driver safety, thanks to less cash handling on board
  • streamlined passenger boarding process
  • improved hygiene through contactless technology.

SINPE-TP currently operates on all rail lines operated by Costa Rica’s public rail authority Incofer (Costa Rican Railway Institute), and it will be gradually introduced into bus services, starting with an initial launch on 200 buses in 2022 It will allow public transport passengers to use their contactless debit or credit card, or contactless-enabled device, to pay for their journeys, regardless of route or operator.

With nationwide expansion, the system will operate on 5,000 buses and the transaction volume is estimated to rise to 600 million per year.

Since 2015, the BCCR, card issuers and acquirers have worked together to help position Costa Rica as a Latin American leader in the adoption of contactless payments. By the end of 2021, 98% of cards in circulation in the country had contactless technology (1.7 cards per capita) and around 77% of all card transactions were contactless.

Littlepay will help BCCR integrate a variety of validators into the system, allowing transport operators to choose, among different payment terminals, the option that best suits their needs and preferences.

“The forward-thinking approach taken by the Costa Rican government and the BCCR will deliver the interoperability and seamless travel experience that so many cities around the world yearn for,” said Amin Shayan, CEO of Littlepay.

“Littlepay’s modular payment infrastructure and APIs are designed to be plug-and-play with various hardware, software and payment systems, and adapt to future technological changes. We look forward to working with our partners to launch this project.

Littlepay is working with two acquiring banks (BAC-Credomatic and Banco Nacional) as part of the integration process, and more may join in the future.

“The two industries will jointly generate high-quality data for passenger transit planners, regulators and supervisors”

Initially, the system will support payments made using Mastercard, Visa and American Express contactless cards and their associated devices. At a later stage, mobile wallet options such as Google Pay and Apple Pay will be added, along with QR code mobile payments.

“We bring together two important industries for the benefit of people: the financial industry and the public transport industry,” said Carlos Melegatti Sarlo, director of the payment systems division, Central Bank of Costa Rica.

“The first provides a set of payment instruments and their funding mechanisms; the second promotes the banking and financial inclusion of populations at the base of the pyramid, through the digitization of transit payments.

“Thus, the two industries will jointly generate high-quality data for passenger transit planners, regulators and supervisors. Littlepay’s insights and solutions were the technology that enabled us to achieve the operational and transactional convergence of these important industries. »

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