BONNsmart - FareGo Open Payment for SWB

Learn from the insights of the first contactless ticketing system for public transport in Germany.


The BONNsmart project gives passengers in Bonn the opportunity to use public transport (PT) in the entire route network of the Stadtwerke Bonn Bus und Bahn (SWB) with a contactless credit or debit card without having to buy a ticket in advance. Passengers can thus arrive at their destination completely relaxed and always at the best fare, without having to deal with the different ticket options in advance. Registration is also not necessary. The card is held in front of a reader when boarding and exiting the train and is charged with the valid fare after the journey. This new, digital distribution system is an additional offer that extends SWB's existing ticketing options and stands for clarity, transparency and time savings.

This application is made possible by a new technology in the area of fare management, "ID-based ticketing" (IDBT), in combination with the global guidelines of the credit card industry, defined by Visa as "Mass Transit Transactions" (MTT) and by Mastercard as "Contactless Transit Aggregated Transactions" (CTAT). 

BONNsmart is a state-funded joint project of Stadtwerke Bonn Bus und Bahn, the Kompetenzcenter Digitalisierung NRW, Postbank, Visa and Scheidt & Bachmann. It is the first public transport ticketing system in Germany based on contactless credit and debit cards. The pilot project was started on September 3, 2020 and will be rolled out successively.

The main features of BONNsmart are:

  • Use of public transport by holding the cEMV card at the validator when entering and exiting
  • The identification medium is also the medium of payment
  • No registration, anonymous use
  • Fare calculation with best price determination by the background system
  • Daily settlement via a payment service provider through the background system

The special feature of BONNsmart's system from Scheidt & Bachmann is the use of a security engine integrated in the background system in combination with a High Security Module (HSM). It is a PCI-certified solution for tokenization of EMV transactions and for administration of encryption functions and key management. A key element is the Token Vault, which ensures that plaintext card data is stored only in a single, secure location in the system. Only unidentifiable tokens are used throughout the rest of the system to replace the plaintext data.

The development of IDBT technology has initiated a paradigm shift in fare management and opens up new possibilities. The modeling of the respective fare with its product variants and business rules is based on the International NeTEx Standard. The internal structure of the FareGo Suite platform is based on an orchestrated micro-service architecture, within which the individual services communicate via the central orchestrator also via defined interfaces. The main advantages of this approach are a highly flexible scalability of the system and a simplified installation and update capability based on the container approach.

With BONNsmart, SWB and its project partners pursue three main goals: The project should help to improve the customer experience, make operations more successful and reduce sales costs. In the long run, BONNsmart should help to strengthen public transport in Bonn and reduce traffic volume - for climate, environment and air pollution control.

The possibility of being able to travel easily with one's own credit or debit card without any knowledge of tariffs should also help to win new customers. The contactless and cashless handling reduces typical access barriers, supports a fast boarding process and reduces the number of stops.

BONNsmart is a fully digital distribution system that eliminates costly cash and ticket paper management. Passengers use their personal media for ticketing and payment, so no ticket media have to be generated and issued. There is also no need for ticket vending machines or the driver to sell tickets, so that lower maintenance costs, faster boarding and more punctual operation can be expected due to the lower use of the machines.

In order to further enhance the customer experience, BONNsmart will be expanded in the future to include the use of value-added services such as parking, Next Bike, Bonn Tourism, Energy and Water.