Meet India’s First Ever Indigenously Developed National Common Mobility Card

On March 5, while inaugurating the first stretch of the newly constructed Ahmedabad Metro, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s first ever indigenously developed National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), called One Nation One Card. With its introduction, the government wants to change the way people pay for public transport across the country.

Unification Of Payment Gateway

The purpose of the card is to unify the payment gateways for the various mode of public transportation and it will also enable payment of toll tax and even for parking. Further, it has also collaborated with Rupay, to allow its users to withdraw money and use it for shopping.

In order to make the card available across the country, National Payment Corporation of India (NCPI), the nodal agency which handles retail payments in the country and the designer of the card, has partnered with 25 banks, including the likes of SBI and  PNB.

“These are bank-issued Debit/Credit/Prepaid cards and the customer may use this single card for payments across all segments including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail,” a press release by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs noted.

“The stored value on card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders. The service area feature of this card supports operator specific applications e.g. monthly passes, season tickets etc,” it said.

How It Works

The idea of one card for payment in all mode of public transportation was initially conceptualised in 2006 and in 2014, various government agencies like National Informatics Centre (NIC), Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), NPCI and the ministry of finance came together to make suggestions regarding the technology.

“Based on the best global practices, the committee recommended an EMV-based (chip-based) ‘Open Loop Card’. These are bank-issued cards on Debit/Credit/Prepaid card for product platform. The customer may use this single card for payments across all segments. The stored value on card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders. The service area feature of this card supports operator specific applications e.g. monthly passes, season tickets etc.,” the ministry official told a leading national daily.

While at the inauguration the metro, the PM also introduced SWAAGAT, an automatic fare collection (AFC) system and SWEEKAR, a gate and card system which will support the smooth functioning of One Nation One Card.

Together with the NCMC, AFC and Validation system, the government hopes to push for digital payment in the country. “This technology is a huge step towards a cashless, digital India. This fully indigenous and interoperable System consists of National Common Mobility Card, Automatic Fare Collection System and Validation Terminal,” said the company release.  

While the gate and reader prototype was designed by BHEL, CDAC was entrusted with the duty of overseeing NCMC specification for the automatic fare collection unit and the interface for the bank servers. Thus, by integrating all the major aspects, the One Nation One Card will be able to push for more digital payment and reduce operation cost. In addition, the data from the servers can be used by the banks and other entities for obtaining business intelligence leading to efficient operation.

Outlook

With the introduction new card, the government will join the ranks of the UK and Singapore, which have successfully tried and tested the model for their public system and continues to remain a popular payment mechanism within the public.  

In India, its large population and wide network of public transportation can greatly benefit from such a scheme, as it can avoid the confusion related to booking and payment. While the card will be of great help to urban-office going workforce in metro cities, its adoption in rural pockets will be fairly low where the majority of the people still find cash transaction much more reliable and easier.

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