A government push to move all payments for bus, metro rides, toll booths and petrol bunks from cash to a single card, has found anew taker — Visa, one of the largest debit and credit card issuers in the country.
is ready to join the National Common Mobility Card (
) bandwagon and may start talks with banks to issue such payment instruments very soon, two people aware of the development said, in what could ramp up distribution of contactless mobility cards among Indian consumers.
“Visa is ready with the specifications to start issuing cards on the NCMC network and has started discussions with banks to issue their cards on NCMC as well, but it will take some time for the cards to start getting rolled out in the market,” said one of the people. NCMC, which was launched early last month to digitalise daily payments on public transport, toll transactions and others, is being issued through RuPay, a card scheme run by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
“The specifications for the NCMC programme are with the government and it is not owned by any specific body, hence, all card payment schemes are welcome to join the programme,” said a senior banker in the know of the matter.
ET understands that Mastercard, the other major card issuer in the country, could have started working on the NCMC cards as well. While Visa did not reply to ET’s queries, Mastercard refused to comment on the story. NCMC is an open loop payment system, and this means customers can pay using these cards at merchant outlets as well. ET had written in its March 21 edition that the government had asked all transport corporations, banks, fuel retailers and metro corporations to start distributing these cards rapidly.
“The idea behind NCMC is to have one card for all purposes, which will make life simpler for Indian consumers,” said one banker. “But the challenge is to upgrade the acceptance infrastructure where they have to be able to process NCMC transactions.” The terminals will need a software upgrade to accept NCMC cards, he added.
As per the concept note on NCMC shared by the NPCI, which worked with various government departments on the project, it is an open loop card that contains a stored value which consumers can use for their regular transportation needs offline as well. “This mode of offline payment can ensure higher success rates of transactions, unlike other open loop card systems which are used across many countries,” said the banker.
Global card schemes, which run contact-less payments in other geographies, need to adopt the Indian convention to issue NCMC cards, but they might choose to use different specifications, he added. Multiple banks and different card schemes had been working on common mobility payment solutions in different cities, but nothing had picked up scale as of now.