Your debit card might soon let you make a direct payment for a metro ride or your next trip to a public museum. Over the last few months, the government has been discussing the possibility of introducing ATM-cum-debit-cum-transit cards with banks, said two people privy to the discussions.
The discussions, initiated by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), soon involved the ministries of electronics and information technology (MeitY) and finance. One of the people familiar with the discussions said the move was inspired by the performance of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)-operated highway toll collection facility, called National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC). “After the success of NETC, the ministry of surface transport has been thinking about weaving payments for daily transport into debit cards as well as payments for accessing other public utilities, such as museums and libraries,” the executive said.
Both the people FE spoke to refused to divulge further details as the discussions are still at a nascent stage. “It will probably take some more time to launch it, maybe another two months,” one of them said.
The major card-issuing companies in India are Visa, Mastercard and American Express, which function alongside NPCI’s RuPay. The total number of debit cards outstanding at the end of June was 944 million, with State Bank of India (SBI) customers holding 289 million of these.
NETC works using the FASTag, a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly while the vehicle is in motion. A FASTag is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables a customer to make toll payments directly from the account which is linked to FASTag. At present, the NETC programme is live at more than 415 toll plazas across the country. Between December 2016 and July 2018, the volume of NETC transactions has grown 479% to 18.46 million, while the value of toll payments made through the channel rose 374% to `418 crore over the same period.