By Pirkka Lankinen
CEO of PayiQ
The shift to mobile may be old news in some industries, but in others, like mobility, it still powers significant change. That’s at least our explanation for our growing numbers. For example, at the beginning of 2022, we saw the best daily sales in the history of PayiQ. And when we look at Q4 of 2021, the topic of this blog, we see development that can only be interpreted as behavioral change powered by technology, not market recovery.
In Finland, as in most places, a return to normal still awaits. In May last year, we were optimistic. At this point, the overall public transportation market was roughly 50 % behind pre-covid numbers, but it was headed in a promising direction. But by December the number had only dropped to 30-40 %, and the total volume of the market for 2021 was the same as it had been in 2020. The traffic between cities was hit the hardest: it was over 70 % behind of what it had been before the pandemic.
In the optimistic atmosphere of spring 2021, we at PayiQ adjusted our sales budget, thinking that by the end of the year, Covid-19 would pretty much be history in our part of the world. Our optimism was premature, and we did not reach those projections and are a bit bummed about that. But at the same time, in a market that is still 30–40% of what it used to be, we were able to grow our sales by 30–40% compared to our pre-pandemic levels. You cannot be upset about that.
As said, our analysis is that folks not only avoid using cash, but they are increasingly finding the mobile ticketing solutions to be easy and functional to use. When done right, a ticketing app is a one-stop-shop for mobility. You see when your bus is coming, maybe how much room there is in it, what the trip will cost and what your connection options are. This is much more than just the contactless payment your credit card enables.
In November, we successfully finalized the Business Finland funded CITYacc project. The idea was to build an ecosystem of companies with a smart city focus to conquer new markets. Within the project, we introduced our platform in six Russian cities and started providing a virtual travel card in them. Now that the card is ready and tested, we are engaged in discussions with new cities and have participated in several public tenders. The idea of CITYacc was to build partnerships to penetrate new markets, and we are increasingly finding that many of the partners must be local. In Russia, we have found several partners to work with both in actualized projects and those at the tender or discussion stage. This approach is not limited to Russia.
A significant push for our team worth mentioning was the public tender and subsequent victory of the ticketing and clearance system for rural public transport in the province of South-West Finland. This is subsidized local transport that complements the more market-driven main routes. The transition from one bus to another must be smooth for the customer, while in the backend, the fee must be efficiently, fairly, and securely cleared between the transport providers. A public tender always takes a lot of man-hours to complete and is, therefore, a gamble for a small team like ours.
All in all, during 2021, we put up a good fight, which shows in the result already, and especially in the long term. There’s plenty of reason to believe things will continue to pick up for PayiQ in 2022.
In 2021 we also became a member of UITP, The International Association of Public Transport, and look forward to joining their MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition in Dubai in February. With the brightest minds from public transport present, we can look forward to building new connections and introducing the PayiQ platform to new markets and operators.
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Ticket to Ride is the monthly blog of PayiQ. If you need to know where smart cities and smart mobility are headed, don’t miss the bus. Subscribe to our newsletter today.