In a recent interview with Thinking Highways, I gave my opinion on the M50 tolling project and how mobile is helping transform tolling in Ireland.
Kevin Borras: Oxygen8 played a massive role in the M50 tolling project in Ireland. Could you tell us how you got involved in the project and how mobile technology played such a crucial role in the project?
Ray Tierney: Tolling was a solution we’ve looked at for some time, in relation to using mobile as a payment mechanism. Charge2Mobile is a new phenomenon available from a number of operators, and in Ireland we’ve used this particular channel to allow consumers to pay for M50 and all other toll route charges in Ireland. We’ve partnered with one of the biggest toll tag providers in Ireland, Easytrip. Easytrip are part of a bigger group, called Egis Projects’ and we hope to work with both on a pan European basis.
The interesting factor about the toll solution in Ireland is that we’re not only using a mobile payments mechanism but we’re also using location based services to target customers. We’re also working closely with O2 regarding their opt-in information.
We conducted a series of focus groups around 12 months ago, prior to the launch of the solution. We’re targeting 20,000 customers a day who currently pay through the cash channel. There is a significant convenience factor attached to using their mobile phone to pay for tolling. It’s proved to be very successful, considering we’ve only launched with one operator since November 2012. We’ve made significant traction and we hope to ramp up that traction this year by launching across two additional operators, Meteor and Vodafone.
Kevin: How does the system work?
Ray: We target customers within a certain demographic using SMS. An outbound message directs them to a call-centre or a website, where they can register for their tag. The registration process takes place over three pages, where they profile themselves including car registration details, address and more importantly, their mobile phone details. They then receive a tag in the post, which they place in their car. Every time they pass through a toll, barrier or barrier-free.
The tag then records the transaction and Easytrip then process the payment via our Billing gateway. We then use the O2 Charge2Mobile payment mechanism to take it from the post-pay or pre-paid accounts.
Kevin: What’s next? Are you looking to take this wider around Europe?
Charge2Mobile, also known as Direct Operator Billing in other countries, is quite a unique tool. It affords companies like Oxygen8 a much better revenue share model, which allows us to operate in the Utilities space. It’s not quite at the credit/debit card or PayPal level of cost, but it’s getting close.
The operators see it as a significant play in terms of moving into new channels themselves, going beyond traditional voice, date and SMS services. We’ve certainly looked at opportunities within the insurance, finance, utilities and postage sectors.
Credit to Kevin Borras and Paul Hutton of the Thinking Aloud Podcast, from Thinking Highways and PH Initiatives.