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Mobility Wallet Challenge Frequently Asked Questions

Updated September 21, 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 dillonc1@michigan.org

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: www.michiganpublictransit.com

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: 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: 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: 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 MobilityWalletChallenge@Michigan.gov 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: https://itsa.org/advocacy-material/mobility-wallet-primer/

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: 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: 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: 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: 1) 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.