By July 8, 2009

Swiss rail offers buying tickets through iPhone app

While in several other countries iPhone apps for railway usually are made by third party developers and just allow for time schedule checking, not so in Switzerland: the app is official and published by Swish rail (SBB, train of SBB pictured above!) itself and it offers something great: you can buy rail tickets directly from the app, for example seconds before you enter the train! Here is how it looks like:

As you can see above you need to register first – including entering of your credit card.

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While most countries of Europe are already members of European Union, some European countries are either too rich (Switzerland = banking, pharma industries, Norway = oil) or too big (Russia = the biggest country, area-wise, on planet Earth). Since Switzerland is rich, many people own iPhone – and not just professionals but also teens. Also: unlike in UK, where railway system has been privatized and is now owned by many companies, in Switzerland almost whole railway system is owned by one company – SBB. Now, with possibility to buy tickets for trains directly from the iPhone app, one can reckon that iPhone – already wildly popular in Switzerland -will become even more popular!

Note that theoretically this app could use Apple’s in-app purchase system, so that people could buy tickets by charging their iTunes account, but since 30% of revenues would have to go to Apple, this way is less profitable for such mass-scale operation like national rail.

Interestingly one could think that with having ticket buying possibility in the iPhone – on the fly – one could try to cheat: and buy the ticket only if somebody is checking the tickets. But in reality the people who check could verify the date of issue of given ticket and thus would recognize that given person was trying to cheat.

Conclusion: this what mobile operators aka wireless carriers were most afraid of – becoming just a dummy pipe to the Internet – is happening as whole payment system goes either through Apple iTunes or through credit cards. Operators get nothing. Clearly Apple has changed the way as businesses think about mobile payment systems and Swiss rail may be just the beginning. How about going shopping and using nothing more than just your iPhone? After all iPhone 3GS has RFID scanner built-in – used for Nike+ but with software upgrade it might be used for scanning of shopping items…

Mobile payments are becoming reality. Now.

Get it here (FREE):

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Apart from iPhone, you might be interested also in Windows Mobile phones!

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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