Unicard, an established provider of smart ticketing and payment solutions to the public and commercial transport sector, has acquired Ecebs from Visa.

The transaction will enable Unicard to offer a more comprehensive range of solutions in the UK and abroad. 

The contactless EMV solution, which allows passengers to tap in and out using a payment card, will be substantially accretive to Unicard’s capabilities, it claims. It enables the business to directly respond to needs of local authorities and transport operators, and puts it at the centre of the rapidly growing smart mobility sector. 

The comprehensive range of solutions caters directly to the deployment of multi-operator, multi-token, multi-modal services across trains, buses, e-Scooters and other forms of transport.

The expansion will cement Unicard’s significant leadership position in the UK market for smartcard ticketing and concessionary travel. Unicard’s solutions have been adopted by over 70 local and regional authorities in England and Scotland, including Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Transport Scotland, Mersey Travel and Solent Transport, as well as the provision of central back office for Rail Delivery Group. 

Unicard can now add Transport for Wales and, significantly, Transport for London (TfL) to the list.

Unicard aims to work with new customer Nottingham City Council to help support its Future Transport Zone (FTZ) ambitions, where the city council could benefit from Unicard’s experience with the rollout of MaaS for TfWM’s Swift travel scheme, and the MaaS and rail accreditation elements of Solent Transport’s Breeze travel App, in line with the respective FTZ programme aspirations.

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“Acquiring Ecebs has strengthened Unicard’s position in the smart travel market, and significantly extends our capabilities and footprint,” said Sean Dickinson, CEO of Unicard. “We’re committed to delivering accessible, inclusive and integrated ticketing solutions for both our new and existing customers, while also helping them deliver new, innovative smart travel schemes.

“Our three guiding principles in approaching the acquisition were about selecting the right partner, ensuring continuity of business for ours, and their customers, whilst maintaining our reputation as a partner renowned for its market innovation, close working relationships and importantly, customer care. 

“Unicard has a strong heritage in the industry, but it’s important for us to retain Ecebs’ expert knowledge and market insight to continue providing high quality products and services to all our customers and their passengers.”

Russell Mccullagh, general manager of Ecebs, commented: “Unicard is a well-respected business with shared interests and a similar culture. We’re confident that both companies’ customers can expect to see continuous innovation and the ongoing delivery of high-quality services, offering real flexibility and a superior experience for the travelling public.”

Unicard has also signed a commercial agreement with Visa to use Cybersource, its global payments platform. This gives the company an opportunity to offer its services across international borders. However, its immediate focus remains expanding its footprint in the UK.

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