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First Group

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Increasing FirstGroup’s resilience in a post-pandemic world

FirstGroup UK, one of the biggest transport companies in the UK, approached BR-DGE with the task of eliminating transaction outages and advancing cashless and contactless ticket sales by integrating with our payment orchestration platform.

Read more about their journey with us in their bid to build back stronger after the COVID-19 pandemic below.

The challenge

There’s no denying it’s been a turbulent year for many in the travel industry. Still, with restrictions easing and people feeling safer to return to public transport, FirstGroup wanted to make sure they were ready for the increasing demand. This task was essential in a post-pandemic world, where more people than ever prefer contactless and cash-free payments when it comes to their commute or weekend travel.

There are 200 million tickets and travel passes purchased every year through FirstGroup’s online bus ticketing portal and app, which enable customers to buy a wide range of advance offers and season pass savings. It was therefore essential that any new payment system fitted seamlessly with their new and existing software. Online ticketing channels are live 24/7, taking up to £1 million in ticket and travel pass sales daily, meaning every technology outage or failed payment creates a serious risk of revenue loss.

The solution

As a high volume transactional business, FirstGroup’s biggest priority was building greater resilience against technology failure, gaining more control over payment service providers and ultimately protecting revenue streams.

Highly scalable and secure, our cloud-based payment orchestration solution gave FirstGroup the robust payments infrastructure they required, initially across their online ticketing for UK bus travel, with plans to include a full roll-out across the company’s award-winning mobile app channel and rail ticketing systems in the future.

Working with BR-DGE means that fears over service failure are a thing of the past, with the ability to seamlessly switch between different service providers in the event of any downtime, allowing customers to continue their transaction without interruption. Adding this layer of resilience to FirstGroup’s digital transactions was a critical step in delivering the company’s high standards of punctuality, operational performance and customer experience.

FirstGroup also found that the ability to test new payment innovations and opportunities at speed allowed them to stay one step ahead of the competition, sitting at the forefront of digital transformation within the travel industry.

Covid-friendly cashless payment systems in an ever-changing pandemic landscape

Increased safety and convenience is the priority for many businesses in the travel industry as we move into a post-pandemic world. A payment system that allows contactless and cashless payments is a must, and payment orchestration enables FirstGroup to transact in the format that suits its customers.

The flexibility to instantly turn cashless payment systems on or off through the BR-DGE dashboard allows FirstGroup greater control over their transaction experience, depending on their business requirements at any time. This flexibility is an essential part of any travel company’s payment strategy as the UK rules around Covid-19 continue to change.

A strategic choice for brand reputation

Payment orchestration doesn’t just benefit businesses from a technical or payments infrastructure perspective; FirstGroup’s brand and marketing teams have also benefited from integrating payment orchestration. By making payment processes more robust and hassle-free, we have been able to help FirstBus reduce the cost of handling cash across the business and capture valuable data insights from the payment process, which is critical to their marketing strategy.

Any payment infrastructure that is less than 100% successful risks brand reputation and customer loss, regardless of industry or company size.

Resilience and liberation

Payment orchestration brings critical resilience, liberates businesses by giving them complete control over the payment end of customer experience, and provides access to a new source of valuable insight that supports innovation and growth.

Creating robust payment orchestration systems for the travel industry and beyond is something that the BR-DGE team is well versed in achieving. Our experience has allowed us to ensure that payment is a part of the customer journey that is never a reason not to buy.

Since implementing BR-DGE, FirstGroup have rescued over 6% of revenues and now have a robust technical failover procedure in place, utilising BR-DGE Optimise, the state-of-the-art dynamic routing capability, plugged into BR-DGE Connect's vast array of payment partners.

What our client had to say

Understanding our clients’ needs is vital to tailoring a service that’s right for their business. As Dave Lynch, CIO, FirstGroup, explains:

“Our online ticket channels are live all day, every day, with daily takings up to £1m in ticket and travel pass sales. Through e-payments, we can reduce the cost of handling cash across the business and capture valuable data insights from the payment process, so it’s critical that we have complete control over this part of the customer journey. With cashless and contactless travel also factors in attracting people back onto public transport, we need our payment systems to be 100% dependable at all times.”

“BR-DGE payment orchestration is our guardian angel; it works in the background to catch any glitches and make sure they don’t show up in the customer payment experience. It means our customers can be confident in buying online, get access to great offers and travel in cashless, contactless safety. Meanwhile, I get a good night’s sleep!

For more information on how BR-DGE could support you to build a resilient end-to-end payment process, contact the BR-DGE Builders today >>