UK-based transport ticket provider Unicard has announced its partnership with Transport for Wales (TfW) which is set to deploy contactless services across the Welsh network.

The deployment of the Unicard ticketing hub platform ensures TfW is the first rail operator outside of London to execute contactless Europay, Mastercard and Visa-standard (EMV) services.

The initiative will begin with a pilot scheme in Newport, Cardiff and Pontyclun, with plans to expand throughout the South Wales Metro region in 2024.

The tap-in-tap-out system will feature an integrated platform allowing the usage of a payment card or mobile device on validators at the start and end of every train journey, akin to many modern ticketing systems globally.

Unicard CEO Sean Dickinson said this agreement will enable easy access across rail services for passengers: “The Unicard team in East Kilbride worked very closely with TfW to implement this service. A significant amount of hard work went into this project, culminating in a solution that enables contactless payments for rail passengers while guaranteeing the best fare.

“Passengers no longer need to queue for tickets, apply for a travel card or change their ticket if their plans change. They can simply use their bank card or payment app on their mobile device to catch a train and enjoy the convenience of contactless travel.”

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According to Unicard, the ticketing hub receives and processes card taps, sending them to the iBlocks account-based ticketing back office, which calculates the value of each trip, taking into account customers’ travel patterns and behaviour.

Unicard emphasised that, unlike other contactless EMV card solutions, its ticketing hub is not affected by the card reader used because of its multi-modal technology, which allows for a variety of equipment within a single deployment.

Dickinson added: “It’s a scalable solution that can be extended to support contactless payments across other modes of transport, like trams and buses. TfW has delivered a proven model for other UK regions looking to roll out a best-value travel experience for their passengers.

“Unicard is very proud to be part of the first deployment of contactless card payment tap-in and tap-out functionality on rail outside of London. We’re looking forward to helping other customers achieve their transport objectives at a faster pace than was previously thought possible.”

This announcement follows previous ventures from the ticketing company which include its acquisition of Ecebs with the aim of offering more “comprehensive solutions” in the UK and abroad.

As previously reported, Ecebs’ contactless EMV solution, which allows passengers to tap in and out using a payment card, will significantly enhance its capabilities.