The rapid growth and acceptance of contactless smart cards for public transport applications is not surprising, considering the many benefits to users and service providers alike. The key benefit is the speed with which transactions can be performed as the card only needs to be placed next to the reader to pay for the fare. This makes contactless systems very convenient and attractive to users as well as to service providers, reducing queuing and delays by allowing passengers to get on or off faster. Also, because the card is contactless, the card reader can be in a sealed unit, protecting it from the environment and reducing maintenance costs.
Smart cards can also help reduce the amount of cash needed in the system, allowing fast and accurate revenue collection and effective financial management with audit trails. They can easily be programmed to support different tariffs for season tickets and concessionary fares for specific population groups, helping optimise the ticket issuing process and reducing administration costs. Also, depending on the application and type of card used, parameters such as time, date and journey can be encoded on the chip to secure authorised use.
Systems based on the MIFARE architecture also feature an anti-collision algorithm which quickly and securely solves the problem of multiple cards in the reader's operating field. This avoids possible data corruption and fraud caused by more than one card being presented to the reader, as an ongoing transaction with a selected card is not corrupted by other cards remaining in the field or moving into or out of the field. The anti-collision feature is also convenient for users carrying more than one card in their wallet, as the algorithm can be programmed so the system selects the right card for the transaction. Thus the user does not have to search for the right card, further increasing convenience.
The MIFARE interface platform is directly targeted for public transport ticketing applications. It offers a range of ICs which reflect the demand for different ticket types in public transport, all of which can operate on the same reader platform.
MIFARE classic ICs can be used for closed system tickets such as day trip paper tickets, weekly or monthly passes, and closed system e-purses.
MIFARE dual interface controllers for dual interface bank cards can also feature public transport ticketing. They operate using banking e-purse technology in contact mode but also operate in contactless mode for public transport fare payment.
MIFARE reader systems provide the reader components necessary for ticket vending machines, turnstiles or handheld control units.