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Masabi, the London-based mobile ticketing startup that has nearly cornered the market for train services in the UK, has raised more funding to the tune of $4 million to expand into the U.S. and make its service work with NFC.
This round of funding was led by m8 Capital, which was also the lead VC in Masabi’s last round of $2 million back in September 2010.
The company currently lets users buy tickets via their mobile devices, and then gives them several options for using them: via QR codes that can be read with special readers at the gates; via visual checks by staff; or by using the card used to buy the ticket through the app at a ticket vending machine.
The idea now will be to extend those payment options to include NFC, something that is already used in certain UK networks — for example the Underground in London uses NFC in its card scheme — and may well become more common in the future.
More importantly, perhaps, is that a move into NFC could help the company in its ambition to target international markets like the U.S., which has shown strong interest in NFC with initiatives coming from several operators, payment providers, handset makers and even payment companies like PayPal that have up to now not given NFC much time. It can also help Masabi branch out into other areas beyond transport such as ticketing for entertainment and sporting events.
Masabi says that by the end of this year its service will be deployed with nine train operators in the UK. Named customers include thetrainline.com, Virgin Trains, Cross Country Trains, First TransPennine Express, First Hull Trains and Chiltern Railways.
That represents significant growth over the last year: when announcing its last round of funding a year ago, Masabi only had two customers.