National Common Mobility Card: Another Step towards a Less-Cash India

Urban transport plays a crucial role in the mobility of citizens. It is the backbone of a strong and prosperous economy providing an economical and convenient mode of commuting from one place to another. The fare collection across these various modes of transport including metro, bus, suburban trains, toll and parking etc. are predominantly in cash thereby causing multiple challenges associated with the cash collection/payment including cash handling, revenue leakages, cash reconciliation etc.

With a view to realising the above objective and the dream of the Government of India for introducing “One Nation One Card” (ONOC) for all types of digital transactions, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) took the initiative for standardisation and indigenisation of the complete ecosystem for the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), covering the AFC System, Access Gate, Mobility Card and Card Reader /Validator.

One Nation One Card for transport mobility was launched earlier in March 2019 by our Prime Minster . These are bank-issued cards on debit, credit, prepaid card product platform. The customer may use this single card for payments across all segments including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail. 

NCMC Ecosystem Implementation Model:

The NCMC Ecosystem implementation is aimed at providing a Vendor and Bank agnostic digital fare collection platform wherein the customers may use NCMC cards (Debit/Credit/Prepaid Card) issued by any Bank for digital fare payments and Transport Operators using an NCMC Ecosystem compliant AFC System from any vendor.

On one hand, it will help the customers to get associated with any bank as per their choice rather than being restricted to a single bank and on the other hand, it will also help Transport Operators in reducing installation and maintenance costs and remove vendor locking. The acceptance of NCMC cards issued by multiple banks will further help to achieve a higher rate of digital penetration for fare collection.

Blockchain not only allows transparency at transaction level but also improve the availability and integrity of the data. The document storage becomes more scalable because of the storage of hash of the document digitally, occupying less space. The system has improved security as well as monitoring and ability to prove the existence of a document on a particular date & time without revealing its content.

Advantages of NCMC Ecosystem :

NCMC fulfils the dream of One Nation One Card (ONOC) :

Now, people may carry only one card i.e. an NCMC card which is a regular debit/credit card equipped with additional wallet functionality. This card can be used for all purposes like cash withdrawal, retail shopping and the wallet function can be used for low value payments like Metros, BRT etc. across various cities.

NCMC ecosystem also greatly benefits the transit operators as it reduces their dependency on foreign technology, leading to reduced installation and maintenance cost of the AFC System and reduced import bill due to local development and manufacturing.

NCMC ecosystem will also facilitate large scale indigenous production and deployment in the Indian transit system and benefit the nation through greater job generation and self-reliance.

In the near future, we expect faster adoption of NCMC in the smart cities domain. For instance, NCMC can be issued to consumers in smart cities in collaboration with sponsor banks. A few noteworthy use cases include payment of utility bills, taxes and transit.

Creation of Financially Inclusive India :

A strong linkage can be developed between NCMC and financial inclusion schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). Government/payment system participants may explore re-carding of debit cards issued under PMJDY and building acquiring infrastructure  with local public transport operators, oil marketing companies, municipal corporations and other stakeholders. Although this exercise will take time, it has the potential to significantly transform the issuing and accepting infrastructure  in rural areas and tier II cities and beyond.

Depending upon the adoption of NCMC, one may expect participants to explore new age forms of payment instruments such as mobile wallets and wearables and innovative loyalty offerings in the future, further boosting adoption of digital payments at offline touch points.

Apart from improving customer experience, NCMC has clear benefits for banks as well. The card’s ability to support both offline and online transactions in a contactless and interoperable manner is envisaged to enhance the operational efficiency of the entire payments  ecosystem. Moreover, the programme is envisaged to have other benefits—for instance, elimination of duplication of efforts and standardisation across the entire value chain. More clarity with respect to scheme-specific changes, deadlines, refund process, transfer of funds, closure of account, among other aspects, will further drive NCMC adoption and boost penetration of  digital payments in the country.

RuPay Contactless card offers the unique proposition of one card for all Payments. This card can be used for transit payments (Bus, Metro, Cab etc.), toll, parking and retail payments as well.

Objectives of RuPay Contactless :

  • To provide a mechanism for including Low-Value Payments (LVPs) within the ambit of electronic payments.
  • To deliver a product that addresses the concerns of Indian customers taking into consideration the Indian banks and merchants.
  • To motivate Indian customers to switch from cash to electronic payments.

Key features of RuPay Contactless card :

  • Transaction type: It supports online (contact & contactless) and off-line (contactless) transactions.
  • Provision for multiple service areas: Multiple service areas (optional to use with mutual concurrence) to support acquirer/operator specific programs e.g. Passes, season tickets, smart city specific application, loyalty points etc.
  • Card usage: The same card can be used at ATMs, merchant establishments and online (e-commerce) payments in addition to other areas of contactless payments viz., toll, parking and other small value merchant payments.
  • Card issuance: The card can be issued by any member authorized by RBI. It can be issued on the platform of Debit, Prepaid, Credit cards as per the option of issuing entity.
  • Information storage: Requisite information required by acquirer, operators and Banks can be stored on the card or the back-end as per the preference and mutual concurrence of participating entities.
  • Multilevel Wallets: There is a provision of 2 types of wallets to store balance on the card – Issuer controlled Global Wallet and operator, acquirer controlled local balance.
  • Stored value top-up: There is a provision of topping up the stored value through any mode of payment viz., online using card, internet banking, IVR, ATM, cash at customer service point at the option of the issuing entity.
  • Offline Transaction Risk: Since the offline transaction is permitted against available balance, there is minimal risk of any loss either to the bank or the merchant. Underlying technology i.e. EMV is best available globally and has been adopted to safeguard against frauds.
  • Cost of providing contactless card to the customer: RBI has mandated that effective all cards issued by banks in India are EMV. Therefore, the cost of providing a contactless card to the customer will be only marginal as against the steep increase in territories where the mag-stripe ecosystem exists.
  • Synergy with existing technology: RuPay Contactless specifications can co-exist with the existing technology being used by acquirer/operator and migration to common standards may be achieved gradually to suit the convenience of PTO.

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Neha Sahay

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