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CAN TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS HELP IN HANDLING PANDEMICS?

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PANDEMICS

By Alain Goudey – Chief Digital Officer at NEOMA Business School

Local areas are in frontline concerning the management of pandemics as this latter evolves mainly by local clusters that can dramatically increase in numbers. The strategy against pandemics is global but the action is local.

As seen worldwide, AI, robots, drones, smartphones and more globally technological innovations can help governments to address the viral outbreaks in order to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of the responses to pandemics. These technologies can help to model the epidemics and its evolution by gathering data on what happens locally. They can also help to maintain quarantine restrictions or inform people about the virus. Logistically it means that smart city technologies can help to handle pandemics.

However, this technological feasibility has to always to be balanced with the questions of ethics, privacy, security of data, and individual freedom. Digital tracing is a delicate issue that should not be treated lightly, even in times of health crisis. It is well known that a technology is not good or bad by itself but the way it is used really determines its positive (or negative) impact on humans.

 

PANDEMICS

Alain Goudey

What technologies can help during pandemics?

Worldwide, some countries have shown that technologies could help to slow down the spread of the virus. These are quite numerous, but below I list here some of the most innovative ones.

Drones are standardly equipped with cameras and can also embark loudspeakers. Thus, they can help to cover wide area in order to find citizens that are breaking rules or at least not respecting government instructions. It has also been used in a way to simply convey an audio message to warn the population and keep citizens informed of what to do. Sometimes, cameras are AI-enhanced and can identify people.

AI-enhanced cameras have been widely used in China, where authorities are using AI recognition technology to track people in order to prevent instruction violations or to automatically measure temperatures and identifying who might be infected. This technology can be as various as drone cameras, public space ones, embarked camera in police cars, in transportation hubs, etc. AI-enhanced cameras can also track movement of people thanks to license plate readers for instance.

Bots have been developed worldwide as this conversational technology can help to inform people on the virus, help them to identify whether they are infected or not, give them specific care gestures. For instance, Kwalys or Clevy, French startups have launched bots to inform and establish a pre-diagnosis and unclog the healthcare facilities. Key companies or even governments have also developed their bots: Microsoft, Google, IBM or the French government.

Analytics technologies & big data: these technologies are useful to create maps of what’s happening locally, it also helps in showing flows and movements of population in order to model the dynamics of the viral spread. To help analysis, the French government has released all the public data in an open data approach, but it is also the case of John Hopkins University. Disseminating information quickly and accurately publicly has a key role to play to manage a good communication and specifically the transparency of this communication.

It is also a major issue to work with the same datasets at a local area as soon as possible in order to increase effectiveness of responses and avoid disjointed actions. Last but not least, good data means a strong ability to predict what could happen. These technologies can be highly helpful to understand where there is a highest likelihood of new clusters or also understanding what the key factors of emerging diseases are.

 

What about e-privacy and GDPR vs. ability to prevent pandemics?

As mentioned above data is key to helping in dealing with pandemics but these must be used very carefully. Temptation can be high to collect geolocative information continuously without the consent of users in order to better fight against viral outbreaks.

However, according to GDPR and ePrivacy European directive, digital applications must use anonymized data and to obtain the consent of individuals. Moreover, in the case of pandemics, governments or hospitals are dealing with a huge amount of health data and must be very careful in terms of collect, use, analysis, storage and time usage of this highly sensitive data. According to the French organism CNIL, a crisis is not an opportunity to break the rules of a good data management!

Google and Apple are joining the debate on tracking as they have announced on the 10th April to join their forces to create a contact-tracing opt-in-based tool. That’s a big news as this kind of application (based on the DP3T protocole) needs a large audience of users (millions of people) to be really helpful in fighting a pandemic. This rare collaboration between these two Silicon Valley’s rivals opens a real opportunity to succeed while they are covering 3 billion of people with their iOS and Android operating systems… depending of course of their use of data!

In conclusion, technological innovations can help us to handle pandemics, but the technological feasibility is one thing… the other things to balance with are the privacy and freedom of citizens. This period is so special that we can see people on Facebook… to complain about the privacy of these possible contact-tracing applications(!), at least highlighting the lack of knowledge of what happens concerning data on social networks.

 

Business

DIGITAL TICKETING: THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FACING PTOS AND PTAS.

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Arnaud Depaigne, Product Manager, Smart mobility at Fime.

 

Transport ticketing has rapidly evolved in the digital age. As recently as the 1990s, closed loop systems based around paper tickets or tokens were the norm. This resulted in a poor user experience. Lines to purchase tickets were often long, and turnstile throughput was inefficient. Today, passengers can use a smartcard or even their phone as their ticket, utilizing contactless and Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality to tap-and-go.

This proliferation of digital ticketing has only been further accelerated over the last 18 months. The pandemic has presented Public Transport Operators (PTOs) and Public Transport Authorities (PTAs) with an urgent need for hygienic contactless solutions. As passenger numbers slowly begin to return, the ecosystem is presented with a unique opportunity to advance urban mobility and move towards a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) model. However, with this also comes a series of challenges.

 

Reacting to changing user behavior

Arnaud Depaigne

Today’s consumer world is digital, global and on demand. Passengers want seamless integrated solutions that allow them to plan and pay for their transit using only the device in their pocket. Furthermore, the urban mobility ecosystem is seeing a rising demand for interoperable MaaS solutions that provide end-to-end transportation on a single ticket. Mobile ticketing must deliver on these expectations as well as being user friendly, reliable and secure.

In part, this is being achieved by changing the focal point of urban mobility from the station to the passenger themselves. This consumer-centric approach allows PTOs and PTAs to reconfigure their sales and distribution channels to meet the growing demand for digital solutions.

Mobility providers can achieve this by integrating Host Card Emulation (HCE) and NFC technologies into their ticketing solutions. More technologically literate passengers will already be familiar with digital wallets and contactless payments. This mitigates concerns about achieving widespread user adoption and means that any digital urban mobility solution could be rolled out at speed. Another benefit to this is that it significantly cuts costs for providers. As passengers no longer require mode-specific travel cards, everything is instead accessible on one device. Providers can therefore cut their expenditure on manufacturing the cards themselves. They can also scale back the on-the-ground resources allocated to support issuance.

 

Context is key

When rolling out a solution, providers must be mindful that each individual passenger has different needs. Cities have unique transit networks of varying sizes that require different approaches. Furthermore, any solution must be accessible to all demographics, from digital natives to those who are less technologically adept. They must also remain aware that not every passenger will have a bank account. Solutions must not exclude people. They must offer customers a range of options to make their payment.

Account-based ticketing (ABT) manages the consumer’s funds in the back-office account, making the payment automatically. This gives users flexibility to move between several fare media to make payments depending on what is most convenient at the time – be it by smartcard, mobile device or wearable. To this end, ABT solutions simplify maintenance logistics, improve security while also ultimately reducing the cost of urban mobility.

By moving from a stored value card system to an account-based approach, PTOs and PTAs can achieve “the holy grail of ABT” as it has been described by Visa. This system opens the door for future adjacent services by achieving interoperability between different fare media.

 

The importance of open standards

Open standards can offer a pathway to truly realizing seamless transport ticketing. With open standards, PTOs and PTAs remain in control of their ticketing network as the supply chain remains open to multiple solution providers. Providers can therefore avoid vendor lock-in and the issues that can present. Furthermore, an open standards approach means that PTOs and PTAs can evolve organically with the technology as it is rolled out. This allows them to remain agile and prepared for future challenges and developments.

 

The need for expertise

PTOs and PTAs will need to continue evolving with future technological developments. By remaining aware of the challenges that may lie ahead, they can put themselves in the best possible position to capitalize on opportunities. Infrastructure migration does not necessarily require huge investments, and with the right support, the transition can be made as smooth as possible.

Fime’s global expertise can help demystify and simplify ABT deployment. With over 20+ years of experience ensuring the efficient and successful implementation of card and mobile transaction services. Fime is well-equipped and experienced in supporting the transport market in delivering the next generation of transit ticketing solutions in a complex market.

 

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Technology

TRANSACTIONS, DISPUTES & THE POWER OF AUTOMATION

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Gabe McGloin, Head of Business Development EMEA at Verifi

 

Everyone wants the transaction to happen

Online payments are evolving toward ensuring every card-not-present (CNP) transaction is a dependable, secure, and seamless experience for the customer. And rightly so, as e-commerce retail sales rose by over 32% in 2020.1 Just to authorise and authenticate a cardholder’s purchase requires data retrieval from many sources, and with all the data matching happening in microseconds, the transaction needs to proceed to completion quickly. It’s understood that for e-commerce transactions, if there is too much friction at checkout, there is a possibility of cart abandonment.

 

Why disputes deserve the same attention

No less vital to ensuring swift online transactions is the right for the customer to dispute a transaction. Disputes are the safeguard that ensures customers can be compensated for fraudulent transactions, damaged goods, or any errors made in transacting. Unfortunately, disputes, and the entire post-transaction experience, have been largely bypassed by automation – until recently.

Gabe McGloin

Customers are making it known when they don’t receive the post-transaction services that they expect. If a customer can’t obtain clarity on a transaction they don’t recall, they’ll might file a dispute. If they return goods and don’t see a refund in a timely manner, they might file a dispute. And, with the increase in e-commerce transactions over recent years1, it has become more apparent than ever that we need to remove dispute friction from the post-transaction environment.

To make a meaningful reduction in disputes will require increased attention to the customer’s post-transaction experience. This means implementing automation and increased data transparency at key points along the dispute life cycle, starting with the first customer inquiry. The antiquated retrieval request which can take 2-6 days is obviously not the answer. When a customer wants to clarify information concerning a transaction, it should be at least as quick and easy as making the initial transaction. This is completely attainable with the right infrastructure in place.

 

Automation, data transparency, and disputes

Say a customer calls their issuer seeking clarity for an unrecognised CNP transaction on their billing statement. Using the transaction identification from the statement, the issuer can request business and receipt-level data directly from the seller’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. This detailed data can cover seller information such as address, phone number, items purchased, purchase date, along with additional transaction data points. This information can be retrieved in near real-time, while the call centre agent is on the phone with the customer. Just to put this in perspective, up to 25% of calls to the issuer are to seek clarity of unrecognised transactions,2 and issuers commonly don’t have the level of detailed information to remedy the situation.

Other reasons for a customer “clarity call” include simple forgetfulness, an unacknowledged purchase from a shared family card, or first-party fraud (disputing a transaction the customer knows is valid). In each case, issuer and seller collaboration can afford the automation and data transparency to quickly and decisively prevent an unwarranted dispute from proceeding. This provides the expected customer experience, as well as the best outcome for the seller and issuer.

Now, consider a customer calls their issuer to file a dispute. Historically, that meant the seller would not even know about the dispute until it was past the point of no return, and well on its way to becoming a chargeback. More recently, through data transparency and issuer and seller collaboration, issuers have been able to alert sellers of a dispute in flight with a 24-hour to 3-day window to issue a credit resolution or allow it to escalate. But these types of solutions still requires the seller to expend hands-on operational time, in case review and credit issuance, should the case warrant it.

Now, with current technology, issuers can process the dispute through a simple, logic-driven decision engine populated with seller-defined rules and parameters. This process can enact a decision, with credit in process, in less than one second – again, all while on the phone with the customer. The outcome is an improved customer experience that also removes the operational time and expense of a manual review or a dispute representment for both the seller and issuer.

 

Keep an eye on customer experience

We are right on the verge of having automation, data transparency, and issuer and seller collaboration align throughout critical points in the payment life cycle, at the point where it’s needed the most – the post-transaction stage. Customer confidence and satisfaction are essential to promote the health of payments, both pre- and post-transaction. These recent developments clearly indicate that it will take a new level of collaboration and innovation to reduce disputes in the post-transaction environment.

Keep these innovations in mind to protect your business – and keep an eye on your customer’s experience, for the benefit of all transaction stakeholders and the entire payments ecosystem.

 

1 US Ecommerce Forecast 2021 – Insider Intelligence, July 2021

2Improving the Dispute Experience – Aite, May 2020

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