Corethree and First Group team up to deliver ITSO-compatible mobile ticketing in Google Pay


Consumer trial of Host Card Emulation (HCE) solution will pave the way for a new, smarter travel experience for passengers

Today, Corethree - Europe’s leading mobile ticketing and data insights provider - and First Group – one of the largest bus operators in the UK - announced they have teamed up with ITSO Transit Hub, Google Pay and Ticketer to deliver Near Field Communication (NFC) ITSO-on-Mobile ticketing with Google Pay. The solution is currently being trialled under a pilot scheme in Glasgow and will be subsequently rolled out across the First Group network, consisting of more than 1.6 million passengers.

Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology allows for the digitisation of tickets and smart cards into the customer’s Android phone and conveyance via NFC, allowing for a more convenient way to travel. The joint venture will allow First Bus passenger tickets to be created and fulfilled by ITSO Transit Hub's cloud-based ticketing service and then stored in Google Pay, allowing passengers to validate their journey by simply tapping on NFC-compatible readers – such as the existing on-board Ticketer ETMs – or ticket gates. The solution leverages Corethree’s Core Engine platform to provide a modern, frictionless mobile ticketing experience.


“This is a monumental step for our company and a clear validation of our commitment to provide the best customer experience through technology innovation,” stated Dave Lynch, CIO, First Group. “This collaboration marks the dawn of a new way to travel as it will enable our passengers to simply tap their Android smartphone on any contactless reader to validate their journey, through Google Pay they regularly use for their other digital cards. We look forward to working closely with our long-term partner Corethree, ITSO Transit Hub, the Google team and Ticketer to conduct a successful pilot and bring the offering to the masses”.

The soon-to-be trialled solution intends to remove the barriers towards frictionless travel. The convenience for customers of not having to carry an assortment of bulky travel cards in a physical wallet means that passengers will be able to enjoy a friendlier way to travel. Furthermore, the ability to instantly validate a digital ticket through an NFC reader will allow passengers to board First Buses quickly and more conveniently, reducing queues and ensuring departure times are met.

“We are extremely proud to be playing such a pivotal role in the delivery of a wholly new ticketing experience with ITSO Transit Hub, Google Pay and First Group” stated Ashley Murdoch, CEO and Founder, Corethree. “This project shows how our Core Engine platform is the ideal choice for transport operators to modernise and innovate their offerings, to provide the best travel experience for millions of customers and keep up with the latest trends in lifestyle. With smart digital cards showing no signs of abating and the appetite for customers to rely on their smartphones for virtually any aspect of their daily lives, we expect this solution to grow in demand. We look forward to conducting a successful trial and cement our collaboration with First, ITSO Transit Hub and Google Pay to shape the future of mobility.”

Steve Wakeland, ITSO Transit Hub Director concluded: “This pilot is a reflection of customers demanding a seamless, fully integrated solution that aligns with their habit of using a smartphone to pay for any other goods and services. ITSO on Mobile is the only solution in the market that enables ITSO tickets to be stored alongside other cards and passes in Google Pay and we look forward to working with all the partners to further drive mobile ticketing adoption.”

John Clarfelt, Ticketer CEO, comments: “We are thrilled that First Bus passengers will be the first in the UK to be able to use our ETMs to transact with their ITSO Smart Cards via Google Pay on their Mobile phones. Our aim is always to ensure our ETMs make it as easy as possible for passengers to pay for their travel, so we are very excited to work in collaboration with ITSO, First Bus, Google and Corethree on this project.”

Corethree is a fast-growing specialist data technology company, founded to enable businesses take advantage of the mobile-data intersection – the single biggest opportunity to create direct communication to the customer. By integrating disparate data points to create simple, easy to use solutions to maximise revenues and improve customer service, Corethree solves business problems and creates new revenue opportunities for its clients through mobile.

Having hit the milestone of 100,000,000 m-tickets sold in May 2019 and with a record-breaking September 2019, Corethree is Europe’s largest provider of mobile ticketing and cashless payment technologies. Its award-winning mobile-data intelligence platform, Core Engine, provides valuable data-driven insights that enable the development for better business models and stronger customer relations.

Corethree’s m-ticketing apps are available for download via the iTunes App Store, Android or Google Play.

Paul Mooney