MIR Developers: Masabi’s mobile ticketing system

This demonstration by Masabi had the MIR Show team stopped in their tracks. Watch Part 1 here.

It’s all about secure mobile ticketing. That’s Masabi’s bag.

Do please take a few minutes to watch the future of ticketing on your mobile. It’s excellent, it’s brilliant, it *works* and it’s available in the UK today.

MIR Developers: Masabi Part 2 –> Stop everything and watch from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

Note: In my haste to get this video up, I forgot to change the labels — so it says it’s James Pycock on the video. It’s not. It’s Ben Whitaker from Masabi talking. I’ll change this in a minute. I wanted to get this up and out.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

9 replies on “MIR Developers: Masabi’s mobile ticketing system”

Yeah, excellent. Lovely user interface from an ordinary user's perspective (attractive, recognisable graphics, UI mechanics help the user rather than fight against them). Couple of things;

1.) S60 handset shown first – wasn't clear whether it was a native S60 app or J2ME app – obviously J2ME on older handsets. Looks like they're using some sort of graphical transitions library too.

2.) As I understand it, the SMS fallback is within the app, once it detects no network. Cool. The issue is getting the app on the handset in the 1st place. I wonder how much of a problem this is or has been, in the real world for real users? What about incorrect WAP settings to do the download in the 1st place? What about incorrect J2ME network access settings (different to WAP settings)? After those 2 hurdles, what about J2ME security alerts for network access?

Anyone from Masabi care to comment?

Anyway these apps are a great reference point for other J2ME/mobile web developers like myself.


Hi Alex,

1) Everything is done in Java. S60 is at the upper end of Java performance, but by no means the best – it looks this slick on pretty much any feature phone, and there's remarkably little degradation going back to old-school S40s like the 7210 (though obviously we can't make the screen bigger!). Graphics are all handled with minimal effort using our app framework.

2) As you say, SMS fallback helps when inside the app (and specifically, is much less error prone than Java network settings, which is one of its key advantages – another is the cost when roaming). If the user has no wap settings at all (rare these days, but possible) then obviously there's no ticketing solution which could work except pure-SMS picture messaging (MMS requires network settings to work). SMS picture messages are extremely limited in size and can't handle, for example, proper secure tickets like the new UK rail ticketing standard – or any barcode holding more than trivial payload.

In practice network settings haven't turned out to be a huge barrier for SMS-fallback enabled apps, but there is plenty that handset manufacturers can (must!) fix to improve the installation experience and plenty operators must do to improve the provisioning of settings, so we don't have to go finding workarounds.


Tom, CTO Masabi

Cool looking app!

1. Does each service have their own app. So if I want to buy a ticket for parking my car, the heathrow express, easyjet, entering a club then I need 4 different apps on my phone? Just calculated that I probably use 20 different e-commerce sites on the web, and I consider myself to be a lite user in that respect. Would I really need to download 20 or more apps on my handset?

2. How do I get it on my handset in the first place? Presume a 'text KEYWORD to 60300' solution?


additional answer for people with no WAP settings at all:

the user can side-load the applications over cable from a PC, or bluetooth, and then the entire app life-cycle continues over SMS alone.

This is especially useful for people with corporate phones with the WAP locked down, or for people working in countries where data tariffs are not standard, or GPRS is only available in towns (Developing world)

I meet with Ben in London awhile back (was part of work I was doing at a mobile startup on Blackberry).
VERY impressed with his knowledge of what it takes for securing mobiles and the product set they had created.
Highly recommended with very low overhead – memory and comms

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