18 Mar 19

The rise of mobility cards

A mobility card looks like any other piece of plastic in your wallet. But it has the power to unlock a wide variety of transport options. As those multimodal mobility options increase, the popularity of mobility cards keep rising, especially as a corporate solution.

The ancestor of today's mobility card is the fuel card: introduced by corporate fleets in the 1990s, it relieved both fleet managers and corporate drivers of the need to administrate each refuelling stop manually.

Networked service
That was just the beginning. The link between a payment card and a networked service made it easy to expand both the network (to other fuel suppliers) and the range of services (beyond mere fuel). 

But what really boosted the fortunes of card-based mobility services was the rise of multimodal mobility over the last decade. 

As it turns out, a coded card – backed up by an online platform, as is increasingly standard – can provide easy, verified access to the growing range of options that are enriching the palette of mobility choices on offer, for both private consumers and corporate customers. 

Transport ecosystem
In other words: mobility cards are the perfect key to Mobility-as-a-Service, the new transport ecosystem taking shape around us right now. 

Today, mobility cards are used to pay for parking and tolls, washing cars, charging electric cars and refuelling non-electric ones, taking taxis, using car-sharing and ride-hailing services, taking the metro, bus or other forms of public transport, and much more. 

Options vary depending on the various providers (see brief overview here); some even include payment for hotels and meals and other travel expenses not strictly related to transport – such as reclaiming foreign VAT, for example.

Mobility budget
But it's not just the provider who determines the options available via mobility card. A corporate customer can also modulate which mobility options it wants to offer its employees. The mobility card can thus become a tool to manage a well-defined mobility budget, which may include pool cars, public transport and shared bicycles, but not taxis or Ubers, for example.

As our own Fleet Europe archive demonstrates, each week brings news of mobility cards being launched or expanding the services they offer. Pretty soon, mobility cards will be as ubiquitous as car keys were in the 20th century – and provide access to a much wider range of MaaS options. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs