Check-in/check-out in public transport: Understanding the users and the acceptance of CICO-BW app

I am sure many of you know this situation: Before using public transportation, you are wondering which ticket you need, how many zones your trip includes or which tariff you must pay (or which ticket is the cheapest alternative). These questions demonstrate that using public transportation in Baden-Württemberg is complicated, which diminishes the attractiveness and, thus, acceptance of public transportation. To support the transition to more sustainable mobility, a change in mobility behaviour is needed. Since facilitating the use of public transport is an important requirement of many people for using it (ADAC e. V., 2017), great attention should be paid to this aspect. Therefore, Baden-Württemberg started a project called CICO-BW. It involves the introduction of app-based e-ticketing with a check-in/check-out system and a daily best price guarantee.

What does this mean?

This means that public transport users can use an app that allows them to check in with a swipe before boarding and check out the same way after getting off. The correct ticket is automatically recognized, the right price is automatically calculated and then charged to the user’s credit card. Users don’t pay more than the price of a one-day ticket. One possible app with this functionality is the FTQ Lab App, which is currently piloted under the name CICO-BW App in the region of Stuttgart. Besides overcoming technical challenges, the success of the app depends on its user acceptance

Source: Fairtiq

What do users want and how do they accept the CICO-BW app?

Examining user acceptance is based on user understanding (Diefenbach & Hassenzahl, 2017). This is achieved through the investigation of user needs, as these are the driving forces behind human behavior (Liebel, 2011). Therefore, we conducted a study in our lab that focused on user needs and their importance for the acceptance of the CICO-BW app. In a multi-method approach, qualitative Interviews (n=11) using a means-end-chain approach (Reynolds & Gutman, 1988) and a quantitative online survey (n=172) should shed light on the general acceptance of CICO-BW app, the relevant user needs and requirements as well as on their fulfilment by the application. By using a well-known acceptance model (UTAUT 2) (Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2011), other relevant factors should be identified as well. Further, possible usage barriers and desired development opportunities were examined.

Key results:

  • The intention to use (4.2/5), the satisfaction (9.1/10) and the willingness to recommend (8.7/10) regarding the CICO-BW app are already quite high, which indicates a high general acceptance. Furthermore, 67% of the respondents think that the CICO-BW app facilitates access to public transport and makes it more attractive.
  • The most important user needs were convenience, security, and hedonism. Convenience was linked to the requirements for a fast, simple, and intuitive ticket purchase, which reduces the effort and stress when using public transport. The need for security should be met by a reliable system, which correctly calculates the price and relieves the user from the concern of getting a wrong ticket. Hedonism should be fulfilled by a gamified app which is fun and entertaining to use and thus increases users’ well-being.
  • Need for convenience is an influencing factor on the intention to use: The greater the fulfilment of the need for convenience, the more people tend to use CICO-BW app. Needs for security and hedonism are influencing factors regarding the satisfaction: The greater the fulfilment of these needs is, the grater the satisfaction with the CICO-BW app. Additionally, people’s interest in the CICO-BW App and their satisfaction also depends on social influence, i.e. whether their social environment wants them to use the app or not (social influence).
  • While the need for security is sufficiently fulfilled by the app and the need for hedonism is met to a very high degree, the need for convenience is currently not fulfilled sufficiently.
  • The greatest usage barriers included forgetting to check out as well as inaccuracies related to location and payment. The frequently desired development opportunities included the integration of more payment options, an existing monthly and annual pass, and saving statistics as well as the option for group rides and the opportunity for a monthly or annual best price.

What do the results imply for practice?

Since convenience is important for user acquisition and shows deficits in terms of fulfilment, this must be the primary focus in practice (e.g., fixing location-related problems). The needs for security and hedonism are important for user retention and their fulfilment should be increased by fixing billing-related problems and using gamification opportunities. Recommendation marketing by users themselves but also by influencers could also be important in terms of increasing user acceptance. Further, implementation of development opportunities such as the integration of an existing monthly/annual pass in the CICO-BW app not only includes occasional users and non-users but also frequent public transport passengers as a target group.

In summary, the identified needs can be used as the basis for developing, evaluating, and promoting the check-in/check-out systems within the CICO project. This ensures a user-centred focus and, consequently, a high level of user acceptance. This is the only way to make public transport in Baden-Württemberg less complicated as well as more attractive. Consequently, it should a positive effect on usage rates.

If you want to understand the results in a practical way and follow the development of the app, you can find more information about the CICO-BW app here.

Source: Fairtiq


ADAC e.V. (2017, 16. Februar). Umfrage: Bereitschaft zum Umstieg auf ÖPNV vorhanden. ADAC. Verfügbar unter:

Diefenbach, S., & Hassenzahl, M. (2017). Psychologie in der nutzerzentrierten Produktgestaltung. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Liebel, F. (2011). Motivforschung. In Qualitative Marktforschung in Theorie und Praxis (pp. 473-490). Gabler.

Reynolds, T. J., & Gutman, J. (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of advertising research28(1), 11-31.

Venkatesh, V., Thong, J. Y., & Xu, X. (2012). Consumer acceptance and use of information technology: extending the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology. MIS Quarterly, 157-178.

Do we trust product reviews? Acceptance factors behind electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)

The modern world of consumption is characterized by the steadily growing e-commerce sector and a large variety of shops, brands and providers. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (2019), 84% of Germans have already ordered something online and almost a third of users make at least one online purchase per week (Statista, 2019). These numbers have grown since the pandemic, as 36% of Germans indicate that they now purchase more products online (Bitkom, 2020). In order to make the right purchase decision in this unmanageable variety of offers, consumers are increasingly orienting themselves towards recommendations from other customers who have already bought a product and who share their experiences with other users (Lis & Korchmar, 2013). While in the past buyers were mainly influenced by advertising and personal sales advice, studies have shown that today many consumers not only proactively seek digital recommendations, but also prefer them over traditional information sources (Bickart & Schindler, 2001; Heckathorne, 2010; Mourali et al., 2005). This digital communication between consumers is known as electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) and the most relevant form are online product reviews (Lis & Korchmar, 2013).

Consumers see online product reviews as a relevant source of information and orientation, which is tailored to the specific product or service of interest. They are usually regarded as independent and objective. However, due to the high reach, many companies have recognized that product reviews are an inexpensive and at the same time effective instrument in order to increase sales (Lis, 2013). This leads to the issue that some companies have started to manipulate product reviews or even defame competitors with negative reviews. These corporate actions can deceive consumers in their perception and lead them to biased purchase decisions (He et al., 2020). In view of the questionable authenticity and objectivity of some contributions, the perceived credibility of a review plays a decisive role in its impact on consumers.

In his research, Jan Klenk from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences investigated the determinants and implications of online product reviews based on the classical Hovland-Yale-approach for persuasive messages (Hovland et al., 1953), which considers the sender of the message, the message itself and the recipient of the message as relevant aspects of persuasion. It is of interest to see, how these three aspects interact and determine the credibility of a product review. The central research question was, which determinants (sender, message, recipient) significantly promote the credibility of online product reviews?

In an online survey, 244 consumers were asked to evaluate fictional reviews, which were manipulated regarding the influencing variables described above. Half of the participants stated that they had already written product reviews themselves. Besides, 66% of participants indicated that they use product reviews often or always and 78% stated that they have a positive attitude towards product reviews. The study revealed that product reviews have a great importance for consumption decisions. Credibility of these reviews is largely determined by sender and message-specific characteristics. In addition to the perceived expertise of the sender and the quality of the arguments used in the review, the trustworthiness of the sender is particularly important. It has the highest degree of effectiveness of all factors and should therefore be the focus of possible measures to increase the credibility of online product reviews. In comparison, recipient characteristics were found to be of little relevance in this study.

To sum up, both, the characteristics of the sender as well as of the message, are relevant for credibility and, thus, acceptance of an online product review. Additionally, independence is the basis for sustainable added value from product reviews. Therefore, Klenk suggests that companies should take care to preserve the independence of the reviewers and to present their qualities in a modern and meaningful review system. This is the only way product reviews are accepted by consumers and can create long-term added value for companies, online retailers and consumers.

What are your thoughts on product reviews? Do you rely on them or are you rather skeptical? We are happy to hear your opinion.



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Lis, B. (2013). In eWOM We Trust. Wirtschaftsinformatik, 55(3), 121–134.

Lis, B. & Korchmar, S. (2013). Digitales Empfehlungsmarketing: Konzeption, Theorien und Determinanten zur Glaubwürdigkeit des Electronic Word-of-Mouth (EWOM). Springer.

Mourali, M., Laroche, M. & Pons, F. (2005). Antecedents of Consumer Relative Preference for Interpersonal Information Sources in Pre-Purchase Search. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 4(5), 307–318.

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