Welcome to Universal Ticket Agent

This site describes UniTiAg, an innovative open-loop ticketing approach and SaaS. The site is designed for executives, business development managers, product managers, and business analysts of transit operators, ticketing systems vendors, and two-sided marketplaces. It outlines the benefits for these entities.

Benefits for two-sided marketplaces

Certain categories of two-sided marketplaces are well-positioned to implement the UniTiAg open-loop ticketing model. This is because they have the infrastructure and resources to effectively integrate the UniTiAg model into their existing systems, allowing them to offer a seamless ticketing experience to their customers.

Such two-sided marketplaces are business entities having two categories of customers:

  • e-merchants, taxi drivers;
  • shoppers, riders, e-wallet holders with cards or cash, cash senders.

Examples of two-sided marketplaces of this kind are Amazon, PayPal, Lyft, Uber, Walmart, Target, Payz, Paysafe, Neteller, etc.

UniTiAg is an innovative concept and SaaS for open-loop public transit ticketing that provides an opportunity for two-sided marketplaces to extend their customer base by public transit operators and public transit patrons.

The revenue generated by UniTiAg SaaS is based on the cost of fare collection. Statista estimates worldwide public transit annual fare revenue at $280 billion. The cost of fare collection across all ticketing methods starts at 7% of fare revenue, not counting capital expenditures. It can often be significantly higher. This means that UniTiAg has the potential to generate significant revenue by reducing the cost of fare collection for public transit operators.

Benefits for Transit Operators

Many Transit Agencies worldwide are piloting open-loop ABT systems. The main objectives of such projects are reducing cash management costs and providing frictionless access to their services.  However, these projects often have low adoption rates and high implementation and operational costs. 

Implementing a classic open-loop ABT system can be an expensive undertaking for TAs.  

  • TAs must procure open-loop hardware and software components, merchant services.
  • TA must assign the project integrator via a bidding process.
  • TAs must organize and operate card-present merchant business processes, which are governed by complex payment scheme rules for transit transactions aggregation and risk management. These rules often require TAs to redesign their traditional ticketing policies and business processes.
  • TAs are subject to PCI DSS regulations. 

While large TAs like Transport for London can afford these investments and operational expenses, mid-size and small TAs often cannot. You can find deep analysis of this issue in series of Mobility Payments posts, such as this one. 

UniTiAg is a must-have open-loop solution for transit operators with up to 2000 transit vehicles

By moving acquiring from card-present transactions to CNP and e-commerce transactions, UniTiAg effectively removes many of the challenges that public transit operators face with the classic open-loop model. This innovative approach streamlines the ticketing process and makes it more efficient for both public transit operators and their patrons.

The TA exposure to PCI DSS regulated data is significantly reduced or even eliminated.

Benefits for Ticketing System Vendors

UniTiAg offers success for existing ABT systems vendors. UniTiAg is not an alternative to them; rather, it helps the vendors provide more efficient solutions for TAs. Each transit agency, together with their vendors, is free to use their own validation devices, fare policies, concessions, and discounts that their patrons are accustomed to. With UniTiAg, ticketing systems vendors may have more successful projects and more sales.

Open-To-Ride Balance

The basic concept of UniTiAg is Open-to-Ride Balance (OTRB), a balance for ticketing purposes, associated with a given contactless card or another contactless token.  The OTRB is shared between participating TAs. UniTiAg synchronizes the OTRB list with the TAs in near real-time. When one TA spends some of the funds on the OTRB, other TAs will see the OTRB decrease by the time the rider reaches any validator of those TAs. 

The OTRB can be pre-authorized, prepaid, postpaid, or a combination of thereof, depending on the UniTiAg customer’s creditworthiness, types of payment cards associated with the OTRB, and UniTiAg risk management policies.  By allocating funds to an OTRB, customers of the two-sided marketplace (a shopper, a wallet holder, or a taxi rider) can access the services of any participating Transit Agency by simply tapping their contactless card at the TA’s validators.

UniTiAg provides customers of two-sided marketplaces (shoppers, wallet holders, etc.) with OTRBsCustomers, who are also transit riders, create their OTRB only once. After that, they can tap their cards at any participating TATo illustrate briefly the cardholder UX, consider the following example: When you order food from Uber Eats or make a purchase on Amazon using their app, you receive a prompt like this one:  

As a valued customer, you have the right to tap your contactless credit card at any participating transit agency (see the list of transit agencies). These agencies will allow you to ride up to the default Open-To-Ride balance of $20. We will apply the actual fare costs to your account at the end of the day. You can increase your Open-To-Ride balance and set up auto-replenishment here

The responsibilities between participating Transit Authorities (TAs), TSMPs, and UniTiAg are clearly divided, as outlined below:

  • The TA takes care of providing rides, calculating fares, and registering card taps as proofs of service
  • UniTiAg takes care of sharing the OTRB between participating TAs, and PCI DSS compliance.
  • The TSMP takes care of card acquiring in e-commerce manner, charging riders, and reconciling TAs. 


Next to watch and read

Watch the 5-min introduction video

UniTiAg vs classic open loop: pros and cons

UniTiAg architecture