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Higin Computer Service

Automated Fare Collection

Realizing stable business operation by accurate and reliable fare collection

Overview

Higin Computer Service Company (of the Higo Bank Group) selected NEC's Automated Fare Collection (AFC) system to issue the Kumamon no IC Card, a contactless smart card that acts as a multi-modal transportation ticket and e-money card for retail stores and restaurants. The AFC system accepts 10 different brands of smart cards, as well as the Kumamon no IC Card.

Challenges

Using Smart Cards to Stimulate Regional Economies

Photo: Haruyuki MaedaHaruyuki Maeda,
Director, Executive Officer,
Higin Computer Service Co.,Ltd.

A perpetual challenge facing rural areas is how to stimulate their economies and promote growth. Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan, where Higin Computer Service operates, is no exception and needed to resuscitate local industry while maintaining the region's unique characteristics. "The regional transport operators agreed that they needed to replace the outdated magnetic stripe cards, by introducing a contactless smart card solution to be promoted as a 'regional revitalization card' that would stimulate the local economy." says the head of Card Business Division, Mr. Haruyuki Maeda of Higin Computer Service.

Fare Payment and E-money Payment by One Card

There are various perspectives to stimulate economies with smart cards. Firstly, smart card use shall not be limited to fare payment means to bus and railway, but also means to pay at stores and restaurants. Secondly, it shall offer regional marketing campaigns leveraged by cross-industry synergy. Moreover, it is indispensable that it contributes to improvements in the tourist experience.

Solution

Delivering Fare Collection and Clearing to Six Transport Operators over 1,000 Buses and Trains

The new smart cards, to replace magnetic stripe card, needed to be used on multiple modes of transport, including buses & trains. With NEC's AFC system, Higin Computer Service offers fare collection service to four bus companies and two railway companies, enabling over 1,000 buses to accept smart cards. NEC's AFC system also helped Higin Computer Service with its clearing operation.

E-money

These smart cards hold stored value that can be used as e-money and is accepted in more than 100 stores, including kiosks, restaurants, bookstores, and even barbershops. The solution also includes a service to facilitate account settlement with stores.

Auto Top-up Service

NEC's AFC system provides an automatic top-up service that eliminates the need to queue at charging machines. When the card balance falls below a preset amount, it is automatically topped up next time the card is used, with top up payments charged to the user's credit card. Additionally, the card can be reissued and cardholders can be refunded the balance on their card if their card is lost.

150,000 Cards Issued without a Single System Failure

The AFC system provided by NEC and run by Higin Computer Service has been serving Kumamoto locals and tourists without a single failure since its deployment in April 2015. The system can process up to 270 million transactions annually.

Results

Transformation from Magnetic Stripe Cards to Multi-purpose Smart Cards

Photo: Hiroshi TakanagaHiroshi Takanaga,
Deputy Manager,
Plan Promotion Section,
Card Business Division,
Higin Computer Service Co.,Ltd.

NEC has designed and developed various nation-wide large AFC systems as well as regional unique AFC systems. Leveraging this experience, the AFC system that realized the Kumamon no IC Card became not only a replacement of the legacy systems but also a system that delivered a "regional revitalization card" featuring fare ticket, e-money and loyalty points.

Compatibility with other Brand Cards Boosts Tourism

In addition to the Kumamon no IC Card, NEC's AFC system supports 10 different-brand smart cards already issued and used in different regions. "We wanted to contribute to tourism by enhancing travelers' convenience by supporting their own local smart cards," says Mr. Kenichi Kawai, Director of Kyushu Sanko Bus, which is one of the six transport operators.
Looking to the future, Mr. Hiroshi Takanaga, Deputy Manager of the Card Business Division of Higin Computer Service, expresses his hope that "all tourists will be able to travel and shop anywhere they like in Kumamoto using only smart card."

Smart Marketing

Photo: Kenichi KawaiKenichi Kawai,
Director,
Kyushu Sanko Bus Co., Ltd.

Unlike other nationally interoperable smart cards, the Kumamon no IC Card is unique in that it can be used for marketing campaigns across industries. This means that stores and operators can take advantage of cross-industry synergy, such as offering double loyalty points for using the Kumamon no IC Card for transport as well as shopping on a rainy day. "Making customers more mobile and encouraging them to shop will have a very positive effect on revitalizing our local economies," explains Mr. Maeda.

Analytics to Assist Strategic Business Decision-Making

Furthermore, Higin Computer Service plans to start analyzing the data accumulated in NEC's AFC system, together with NEC who has rich experience in big data analytics. Data analytics will help Higin Computer Service's transport and retail customers optimize their business operations and management. "As more people use the card, more data will be accumulated," says Mr. Kawai. "We hope to analyze this big data and use the results to solve some of the issues that our rural areas are facing. For example, we can use this data to optimize transport connections, routes, and schedules, or even for strategic decision-making such as where to locate new stores."

Larger viewUse case of smart cards in Kumamoto

Customer profile

Higin Computer Service Co.,Ltd.

Type of business Information technology company

Logo: Higin Computer Service

Established 1988
URL http://higincs.co.jp/
Business Information Higin Computer Service was founded in 1988 as an information technology company for the Higo Bank Group. Since then, the company has expanded its customer base from the Higo Bank Group to include local firms and offers system integration services, Web solutions, and outsourcing. Higin Computer Service is the operator of the AFC project Kumamon no IC Card.

(OCT 25, 2016)

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