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Mobility Wallet Challenge Frequently Asked Questions

Updated October 13, 2022

Q: May foreign companies submit a proposal?
A: Yes, but be sure to include a local partner.

Q: How much money is available? How many awards will be made? Is there a limit to the amount requested in an application?
A: A total of $3 million will be awarded. We expect to make awards to two or three projects. There’s no cap on the requested amount, but we do want to be able to make multiple awards. The final number of awards will depend upon the scale of the projects we feel have the best potential.

Q: Of the $3 million mentioned above, how much is for a pilot implementation/proof of concept and how much is for ongoing operating costs of a solution? Or is this all for a pilot implementation/proof of concept? 
A: The $3 million will be used for the pilot. Proposals should include a plan to sustain the project financially and operationally if it’s a demonstrated success.

Q: What are the match requirements?
A: There are no match requirements. However, we want to know that there is local buy-in. If partners can provide matching funds, that’s one way to demonstrate their buy-in and commitment. 

Q: How can I let potential partners in other areas know I’m interested in being part of a proposal?
Q: How do you see the partnerships coming together? How will the transit agencies play a role in partnering with technology providers?
A: Potential applicants are encouraged to use Connect Space to identify and reach out to potential partners they haven’t engaged with independently. Connect Space is a business matchmaking platform utilized by the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and Pure Michigan Business Connect. The platform allows us to connect companies through a variety of methods and for companies to connect with each other directly. For the Mobility Wallet Challenge, we’re using Connect Space as a place where we can highlight companies and organizations that are looking to partner with others on a proposed solution. Each company and organization will have a dedicated “booth” where information collected through the Company Info form will be displayed. The primary point of contact for your company or organization will also have their contact info displayed so that companies or organizations that are interested in partnering with you can reach out directly. 

To set up a profile/virtual booth, click here: Virtual Exhibit Booth Form. You will be notified when your virtual booth is set up. If you’d like to access the platform to view entities with a virtual booth without creating your own (think ‘virtually walking an exhibit floor’) you’ll need to create a brief account creation form which can be accessed here: Connect Space Matchmaking Platform - 2022 Mobility Wallet Challenge. From there, click “Company Connections” on the left side of the screen to view virtual exhibitors. 

Colin Dillon from the Pure Michigan Business Connect team is the person managing the Connect Space operations for this event. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

Q: You have mentioned that proposals should identify and include letters of support/commitment from partners such as mobility technology companies, public transportation agencies, transportation planning agencies and social services groups. Because most of the public transportation agencies and transportation planning agencies are part of the State of Michigan, can we work through the state for partnering with the identified agencies? Or it is mandatory to have a letter of support as a part of proposal with each type of agencies listed in FAQ?

A: Applicants should reach out to transit agencies themselves to establish a partnership. We encourage you to use Connect Space to identify transit agencies that have registered there, indicating their interest in this project. However, if there is a transit agency you wish to partner with that is not in Connect Space, you may reach out to them independently. If you do not know who to contact at a particular agency, you can email and we'll provide you with contact information.

We want to see letters of commitment from each partner to ensure that every participant understands their roles and responsibilities. Depending upon your proposal, you might not have partners in each type of agency listed.

Q: How can we connect directly with transit agencies?
A: Agencies have been encouraged to register in Connect Space. You also can get links to the public transit agencies in Michigan here:

Q: What transit agencies have the capability and/or interest in partnering?  Do all the transit agencies in Michigan have software capable of coordinating with the wallet?
A: Use Connect Space (see above) to find interested transit partners. At this time, not all transits have software or hardware to connect to a mobility wallet, but the capital expense to fund things like that can be part of an application.

Q: Can an entity be a partner in more than one proposal?
A: Yes. If you’re involved in more than one proposal, please explain your capacity to participate in more than one project. If you have capacity for just one, please let us know that so we can factor that into our award process.

Q: If partners (e.g., technology providers) are selected prior to application, will we be able to use federal funds to support the project if we decide to expand it beyond the pilot period? 
A: You would need to get guidance from the Federal Transit Administration on eligibility. 

Q: Do we need to have a mobility wallet technology provider as an official partner for the application, or can we partner with a company to help with design work and then a managed vendor selection during the pilot? 
A: You may propose a phased approach, with Phase 1 being design and developing a request for procurement of the technology provider and Phase 2 being hiring the software partner and implementing a wallet. Such an approach could result in a longer timeline for the project, and that will factor into project selection. Note that the proposal should include other identified partners, such as mobility providers and wallet “funders.” 

Q: Is the State Of Michigan is trying to solve any of the following problems:
Bring all the transit agencies in Michigan under a single mobile app for ticketing and payments?
Offer a platform for residents in Michigan to seamlessly receive funds thru this new app and a platform for them to conveniently buy transit tickets?
Is the main goal to easily distribute the state funds for transit for Michigan residents  and thereby control the funds distributed are only used for Transit purpose and not any other purpose?
A:  Responses to the above questions:
- We are not attempting to bring all agencies under a single ticketing/payment app.
- We do want a platform where residents can seamlessly receive funds and conveniently buy transit tickets/pay fares. Note that we hope the platform can be used to access trips on multiple modes, not just public transit (e.g., bikeshare, ridehailing/TNCs, etc.).
- The goal is not to control use of funds, but rather to improve access to transportation in a convenient manner.

Q: Is the State of Michigan looking for a solution to provide commuters access to transit systems operated by different providers in the state using a universal ticketing/payment credential without the need to purchase individual ticket for each system? E.g., single ticket that would grant access to DDOT, SMART, and People Mover in Detroit.
A:  That is not a requirement of this challenge, but it could be included in your application/proposal.

Q: Is the State of Michigan looking for a restricted and secure funding mechanism to provide transit/mobility funds to commuters? E.g., restricted prepaid card to provide $100 monthly to commuters for purchasing tickets at different modes of transportation in the state.
A: Funding mechanisms should be secure and restricted to use for transportation. Prepaid cards may be one mechanism, but other payment options also are acceptable.

Q: We understand that State of Michigan disburses funds to residents in Michigan for transit purposes. Do such residents have to apply for such fund support from State of Michigan or these funds are disbursed based on the historical resident data? Is application for requesting for funds part of the scope for Mobility Wallet Challenge?
A: Neither the Michigan Department of Transportation nor the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification provides funds to residents to use for transportation purposes. There may be such funds that are provided by other state departments/agencies (e.g., Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs), but those agencies are not involved in the administration of this project. Applications should include partnerships that will help fund residents' wallets; those partners could be another state program, a nonprofit organization, a charitable foundation, private business or others.

Q: How are the transit funds for residents currently disbursed by the State of Michigan? Checks, cash or electronic credit to resident's bank account or other ways?
A: Neither the Michigan Department of Transportation nor the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification provides funds to residents to use for transportation purposes. We don't have knowledge of the mechanisms used by other departments/agencies.

Q: Do we need to focus this on building the financial backend of a mobility wallet system (e.g., negotiating the merchant of record and all of the financial arrangements), or the policy frontend (e.g., how can we connect this to multiple providers and social service programs)? 
A: The proposed project should include both aspects. If you use a phased approach as described in the previous question, it should include a financial backend at least by Phase 2.

Q: What kinds of expenses are eligible?
A: Hardware; software; labor and other operating expenses to support the project; the cost to perform an evaluation of the pilot and submit a final report. The grant application can include money to deposit into users’ wallets to get the pilot rolling, but the application should include an explanation (and ideally a demonstration) of where future wallet funds will come from.

Q: Are you considering any hardware solutions? Or just software? 
A: Proposals should include all expenses that are necessary to implement a mobility wallet. That may include hardware, software, labor, etc.

Q: We understand multiple transit agencies in Michigan are not digitally enabled or ones that are digitally enabled mostly support  closed loop card systems. Is the State of Michigan open to making investments to replace the POS/IOT devices on stations with open loop POS systems that will allow tap-and-buy tickets at the point of entry?
A: Yes

Q: Can planning expenses be included in the application (e.g., ascertaining the necessary capital and operating costs, identifying roles and responsibilities of partners, integration timelines, etc.)? 
A: Yes. The application may include any expense that is necessary to successfully deploy the proposed project. 

Q: As a part of onboarding the resident on the mobile digital app for this pilot program, is resident verification/validation (e.g., SSN, name, address verification) part of the pilot scope?
A: This can be included as an eligible activity in the application.

Q: After award, will the disbursement of the award funds be 100% at the beginning of the project or is there a particular scheme (e.g., it can be 40%; 30%; 30%) and under which criteria or milestones?
A: This can be negotiated in the contract with the winning vendor(s), but it’s unlikely that 100% of the funds will be disbursed at the start. Generally, we prefer to pay out based on completion of deliverables or progress payments.

Q: What’s the timeline for the projects?
A: For the proposals: Questions about application requirements must be submitted to by Oct. 14, 2022. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST Oct. 24, 2022. We expect to make awards by the end of January 2023.

For the projects: A project timeline should be part of your proposal. We’re open to a 2- to 4-year timeframe, but there should be deliverables along the way. Your proposal should explain how much time you need for each task/deliverable.

Q: Proposals are required to include a timeframe. Is this a pilot test period of 3 months to 1 year, or there is another time period to be considered? What will happen once this period finishes? Would the winning vendors support the project scaling or implementation in other areas?
A: We are flexible in regard to the time period. We expect the proposals to tell us how much time they reasonably need to deliver a meaningful project and demonstrate its success. After the pilot period, our hope is that if the pilot was successful, the partners will continue to operate it. Additional funding from MDOT and/or MEDC might be available for scaling or implementation in other areas, but we can’t guarantee that at this time.

Q: How does the wallet work on fixed-route fare boxes? Or is it more appropriate for demand-response services where individual trips are booked?
A: A mobility wallet should work for both fixed-route and demand-response service, as well as for other modes, such as bike share and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs; e.g., Lyft, Uber). Fare payment can be made with validation hardware, the driver visually checking something on the rider’s app, by use of a swipe card, or other methods.

Q: The presentation referred to “a card-based account management system to assist mobility.” Can you please verify what that means? My assumption was that this would be an account-based system and not reliant on cards necessarily.
A: The wallet may be digital or a card, though form and function may vary. For more details, ITS America’s Mobility Wallet primer can be found here:

Q: The call for projects mentions the need to identify and recruit potential funding partners for the development of the wallet. Why would this be necessary?
A: Although no additional funding is required for the pilot projects, we expect to see a sustainability plan (and commitment) to continue the project after the grant funding is expended. While grant funding could be used to make initial deposits in wallet users’ accounts, you may wish to have a partner contribute those funds and then use all the grant funding to cover things like software, hardware, etc.

Q: Is it a requirement of the proposal to have partners in the different industries named?
Mobility technology company
Public transportation agency
Transportation planning agencies
Social services and advocacy group
A: Proposals should identify and provide letters of support/commitment from each partner. The ones listed are the ones we’d typically expect to be involved in a mobility wallet, but there may be variations. For example, in place of a public transportation agency, you might partner with different transportation providers, such as a ridehailing company, bikeshare, taxi. You might include a philanthropic organization in place of an advocacy group.

Q: Does the proposal and the execution have to be developed under a particular legal scheme (a consortium, joint venture or the equivalent in the state of Michigan)?
A: No particular legal scheme is required.

Q: Are there any guidelines that should be established for the metrics to be implemented? 
A: We don’t have metrics guidelines. But a factor in the evaluation and award may include the data collected and metrics to help determine a project’s impact and success; including that information in the proposal is recommended.

Q: Please define key success factors for the Mobility Wallet Challenge Program, e.g.:
Single unified mobile app for ticketing and payments for any transit agencies in Michigan with ability to make payments for TNCs as well
Resident onboarding on the mobile app
Disbursement of transit-related funds to Michigan transit
Ability for users/employers/third parties to load or add funds on the app/wallet
Buy transit tickets for any transit agency in Michigan and TNCs
A: Applications are asked to include an evaluation plan/metrics.  The strength of that plan/metrics will be considered in making the award(s).

Q: How can a mobility wallet accommodate community members without a credit card?
A: A credit card is just one way to access funds in a mobility wallet. There should be multiple methods to support various payment sources, including those for people who are unbanked. Possibilities include partnering with retailers or others who could accept cash to deposit into a user’s wallet, or having partners (e.g., employers, health-care providers, etc.) deposit funds into the wallets of the users they support (workers, patients, etc.). Proposals should explain the funding methods in the application.

Q: Apps can be a challenge for older individuals and others. How will a mobility wallet accommodate them?
A: Not everyone has access to a smartphone or is comfortable with that kind of technology. Proposals should explain how they will use additional methods, such as smart cards or call centers, to make the mobility wallet accessible to all potential users.

Q: For the upcoming Portland transit wallet app, did you have all of the vendors agree on the same payment/ticketing platform/technology, or is your app integrating with each individual payment system using distinct application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs)?
A: Portland is not requiring a common technology; APIs and SDKs can be used for integration. Michigan would take the same approach.

Q: Who will hold the money (e.g., from fares paid) and therefore the financial risk and therefore the main ledger? 
A: An explanation of how the money will be handled should be included in the proposal. Project partners may use the fares to offset expenses and/or generate profit. MDOT/OFME will reimburse the expenses incurred based on invoices submitted to MDOT/OFME; invoices should be submitted no more often than monthly but at least quarterly.

Q: Does State of Michigan have a partner bank today that could become a potential escrow bank for digital payments for the transit proposed on the Mobility Wallet Challenge program?
A: Michigan does not have a bank partner for the state. Each proposal is encouraged to include a financial institution as a named partner.

Q: Who makes a profit off the wallet concept and how? Do they retain a percentage of fare revenue?
A: Pilots should be based on a viable business model and be sustainable. Your submitted budget should show how it will generate sufficient revenue to create a viable business model, such as via potential transaction fees (including reimbursed fees for payments processing from other agencies/transportation modes), income from delivering and updating the back-office software platform, long-term financial support from government grants/programs or philanthropic organizations, or a combination of any of these.

Q: After the pilot is complete, how will operational and maintenance costs be covered?  Would a public-private partnership (PPP) or other scheme be established in which project partners are credited with a percentage of the transactions executed for a period of time?
A: Grant funds can be used for all expenses during the pilot period (up to the grant amount), which includes the development, deployment and operation of the solution for a demonstration period that is long enough to prove if the solution works. However, the proposal should explain how the mobility wallet project will be funded after the demonstration period has ended. This could include such things as committed funding from project partners, transaction fees, etc. What we don’t want to see is wishful thinking that the project may obtain future grants, new partners, etc. – we want commitments.

Q: Are there any Michigan examples where technologies like a mobility wallet already exist?
A: Several agencies have technologies such as mobile or contactless fare payment, but none have all the capabilities of a mobility wallet.

Q: Please share average volume of ticketing/transactions on typical fixed route, demand responsive, bike share, etc. Also share an expected transaction volume for such transit services on the digital platform.
A: This data would vary greatly among transportation providers. You should get that information directly from your potential partner(s).

Q: We understand that call center support is needed as a part of this proposal to help residents who do not have smartphones or internet access to buy transit tickets and plan their travel. We also understand the call center will have to manage and support queries on transaction discrepancies, customer support, etc. Please share expected call volumes for such support.
A: We have no way to predict this. You might get a general idea from the transportation provider(s) you partner with, as they have a better understanding of their individual customer demographics and capabilities.

Q: What are some of the concerns about mobility wallets that we should be aware of and considering as we develop our proposal to ensure these risks are mitigated from the start?
A: Ensure that your proposal addresses equity and access. Provide solutions for people who don’t have smartphones, computers, credit cards, or bank accounts, and for people with disabilities such as vision impairments. 2) The proposal should address privacy and cybersecurity considerations.

Q: Is MDOT using a third-party consultant for this RFP? 
A: The Call for Projects was issued by the state of Michigan without a third-party consultant.

Q: Is there any other source of information to get better define the scope and the deliverables of the project?
A: At this time, we don’t have additional resources to point you to. Continue to check the Mobility Wallet Challenge website (Mobility Wallet Challenge) for any updates or additional information.