Public Transport Payments: new developments on the horizon!

Mathijs Helgers
Connective Payments, June 2024

In the domain of Dutch Public Transport, a significant transformation is underway in the area of payments. Three years ago, we spoke with Bas van Weele, program manager of the OVpay initiative. Since then, major progress has been made in this transformative journey. This article provides an overview of the current state of this payment transition, highlighting the advancements achieved and the opportunities on the horizon.

Current state of OVpay

Since June 2023, public transport in the Netherlands has seen a major upgrade with the introduction of bank card check-in and check-out, allowing travellers to travel at regular fare with either a debit or credit card. Passengers are adopting the new payment method, reflected in the 22 million transactions in December 2023. The program was awarded with “The World’s Best Smart Ticketing Programme” at the Transport Ticketing Global 2024 in London. A country wide payment scheme for public transport is unique in the world.

What is OVpay?

The rollout of the initial phase of checking-in with a bank card, which officially began in 2015 , marks a pivotal step in introducing diverse payment avenues within Dutch public transport, facilitating account-based ticketing. The technical foundation of checking in with a bank card is the same for all future payment methods. Unlike the old OV-chipcard, where a prepaid value was stored directly on the card, OVpay shifts this intelligence to Translink’s back-end, linked with banks and payment systems. Additionally, making all public transport payment/transaction processes and validators EMV compliant, was necessary to accept bank cards. Lastly, this transition enabled tokenization within public transport. Bank cards are now registered as tokens in Translink’s backend, which opens the opportunity to other types of cards as a token.

Figure 1 Simplified flow of checking in with a bank card in Dutch Public transport, source Connective Payments analysis

Next steps bank card

The next phases in enabling bank card travel involve connecting products and subscriptions. Normally, when using a bank card for travel, the total amount spent is calculated at the end of the day, covering all trips taken. In the case a traveller has a product connected to his account, this discount is included in the calculation. Common products are for instance age discount or discount when traveling off-peak. In case of a subscription the amount is calculated periodically, e.g. per month. One of the major hurdles encountered by the public transport operators (further PTOs) and Translink was ensuring accurate traveller identification, to ensure that the traveller is the owner of the card and product. Unlike an OV-chipcard, which includes a photo and certain personal details linked to the card, a bank card lacks such information.

For example, the GVB (Amsterdam’s municipal public transport organisation) is already offering the possibility to connect a subscription product to a card. With GVB Flex you get a discount from 10% to 40%, on all journeys with GVB, depending on the product. When connected to an OV-chipcard all journeys are invoiced and collected monthly, taking into account the applicable discount. When connecting the GVB Flex card to a bank card, the discount still applies, but the total cost of the journeys of that day will be collected daily, the day after traveling.


Translink not only introduces check in and check out with debit and credit cards, it also introduces a successor of the prepaid OVchip card. The new prepaid card is called the OV pas. The OV-pas shifts intelligence away from the card itself. The prepaid value of the card is no longer stored on the card, but in the back office.

The OV-pas will be available both as a physical card and as a virtual card, both can be bought and loaded via an app (the OVpay app) and via a website ( The first trail period of the OV-pas is scheduled for Q2 2024 in Almere. A nationwide rollout should follow immediately after the trail, and the complete rollout should be finished by the end of 2024.

The introduction of the OV-pas is a collaboration with Mastercard and Bunq, utilizing the EMV technology and scheme rails, to enable the original closed-loop-card. This not only ensures the security of the EMV scheme but also presents new opportunities. Unlike the old OV-chipcard the new card could potentially be used at regular payment terminals. This flexibility allows PTOs and OV-card resellers to offer combined product deals.

Figure 2: New OV-pas, source


Based on the new technology behind OVPay three trends are expected to improve the collaboration between Dutch public transport and third-party entities, like Mobilty as a service provider, even further.

Firstly, many public transport operators already use barcodes to sell tickets, whether through mobile apps or printable copies. Third-party vendors can merge these barcodes with their own tickets. It could be possible to providing a barcode for traveling with public transport alongside an airplane ticket or amusement park entrance, enabling seamless travel for customers. MaaS providers can easily integrate this solution into their own apps.

Secondly, the option of tokenization, commonly used for payment cards, can extend to other cards and payment methods. This allows MaaS providers to smoothly incorporate public transport tickets into their mobile and card services.

Lastly, both of these advancements are supported by the shift to the backend, offering third parties’ access to additional data (with client consent) and the development of new features that combine the strengths of MaaS providers and PTO’s/Translink.


The Netherlands stands out as the sole country with a nationwide payment system that accommodates both the OV-chipcard and bank cards for check-ins. This seamless interoperability between travel and payment owes its success to effective cooperation and the establishment of TransLink in 2008. While directly replicating this model might not be feasible for other countries (see for instance our previous article on the developments in other European countries), elements of the Dutch PTO scheme and payment infrastructure can certainly be adapted and reused in various regions and cities across Europe, whether they have one or multiple PTO’s.

How can we help?

Connective Payments is currently contributing to OVpay in three ways. Firstly Connective Payments is facilitating the set up and development of an API management frame, to enable PTO’s to offer OVpay functionality through their own channels. Secondly, Connective Payments supports the development and refining of the reconciliation and settlement processes, ensuring smooth financial transactions within the OVpay ecosystem. Additionally, Connective Payments is part of the development and rollout of customer services via the OVpay app and the OVpay website.

Looking at the ongoing implementation of OVpay and the insights gained from it within the Netherlands, Connective Payments identifies many opportunities for PTOs and MaaS parties to enhance their payment services, organizational structures, and overall customer experience. Connective Payments will keep you up to date on this subject.

Connective Payments is here to help you

At Connective Payments, we have extensive experience helping financial institutions to grow their business and improve their payment processes. In case you are inspired by this article and curious about how you can respond, please contact Mathijs or Ronald and let’s talk!

Picture of Mathijs Helgers

Mathijs Helgers

Connective Payments

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