En route to a new way of paying for public transport

Design Thinking

Experiment design

Living lab

Customer journeys

The challenge

How can we introduce a new payment system in public transportation as user-friendly as possible?

The approach

Public transportation is changing. Or yes, paying in public transport. In fact, in several places in the Netherlands you can now choose how you check in and out on the bus, train, streetcar and metro. With a debit card, credit card, phone or even a smartwatch. To realize this, all public transport companies in the Netherlands joined forces under the name OVpay.

‍A new payment system like this has quite an impact on travelers. Therefore, we set up a shell to introduce this system in the most customer-oriented way possible. Think of communication around the project, but also the various touch points. Everything that ensures that travelers can use the new payment methods easily.

To do this, we first examined public transport in other cities. What goes well in Seoul, London and Tokyo? And what could be done better? We also asked travelers about their experiences and ideas. With these insights in mind, we helped design and experiment with the introduction of the new payment system.

We worked according to the Living Lab method, which brings together service design and experiment design. We created living labs where we could learn "in real life" how the conceived service worked. What does it mean for the traveler, the driver, the conductor? How do they react and what does that reaction mean for how the service can improve? We started in Lelystad on a number of buses with bank card payment, and step by step the experiments in our Living Lab included more payment methods, multiple regions and multiple types of travelers. We learned, adapted and step by step we took the whole organization behind OVpay Netherlands along with the changes.

So if you take the bus today, you can also check in and out with your debit card. The cost of the trip will be debited from your account at the end of the day. Almost all Dutch banks participate, and a lot of foreign ones as well. By the way, it works not only with your physical card, but also with your debit card on your mobile phone or your smartwatch. Cool right?

‍And then we are far from there. As such, the service is still evolving. We continue to monitor everything and introduce new features one by one. In doing so, we have inclusivity at the top of our priorities. We continuously take into account all possible target groups. This way we can make the experience as pleasant as possible for every traveler.

The impact

Accessible travel for everyone

Traveler can choose: pay by debit card, credit card, phone or smartwatch

Customer journey challenge?

It's quite a challenge to work with so many different public transport parties on a new payment system. But the strength lies in that collaboration. Proud to be a part of it

Hakki Altun

Experiment lead, MakerLab


Game experiment with BNNVARA

Time for innovation?

Sander Goudswaard

Partner MakerLab

+31 6 41 36 81 66




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