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On 22-23 February, transport authorities, banks, payment schemes and industry experts met in New Delhi to discuss the current state of transport payments in India. The meeting was organised by APSCA India with the support of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), the Government of India agency responsible for urban transport development.

A national migration to open-loop transport payments
India is the only country with a government objective to adopt EMV open-loop ticketing nationwide as a basis for open and interoperable fare payments across all transport systems. The National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) is an initiative for an interoperable transport card that is also an open-loop payment card in the retail space.

Working group to develop implementation strategies
Transport Payments South Asia was organised to assist public transport stakeholders in India with implementation strategies to achieve this national goal of open-loop transport payments. The conference included the preliminary meeting of a working group on Implementing Open-Loop Transport Payments in India

Who attended
The conference was attended by 190 delegates from across India together with international experts from payment schemes and solutions providers from Australia, Singapore, Japan, China, Germany, France and the UK. The keynote address was made by Shri Mukund Kumar Sinha, OSD (UT) & EO Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

PHOTOS FROM THE CONFERENCE: Check out photo highlights from the conference here

Key conclusions from the conference

- In India card-based EMV open-loop payments in transit, account-based EMV open-loop payments in transit and closed-loop contactless transport card payments are likely to coexist for some time.

- While there is a government recommendation to implement card-based EMV contactless open-loop payments in public transport, operators are increasingly making their own business decisions.

- Transport operators with successful closed-loop transport card schemes are likely to take a gradual approach to introducing EMV open-loop payments as an add-on to their existing schemes.

- Some larger closed-loop transport ticketing schemes in India are already pursuing a “City Common Mobility Card” strategy to first deliver smart integrated ticketing for their own customers.

- The successful closed-loop transport card schemes will want to see a real business case for the expense of introducing open-loop payments - or significant financial support from third parties.

- Greenfield AFC implementations are likely to launch EMV open-loop payments from the outset and today the majority are expected to pursue card-based NCMC approaches to open-loop payments.

- Based on the drive for open-loop payments, it seems unlikely that future greenfield public transport ticketing schemes in India will decide to implement closed-loop transport cards.

- The industry appears to agree that the “Kochi Model” of a bank underwriting a transport ticketing scheme [and paying royalties to the operator] in return for exclusivity is unlikely to be repeated.

- While operators still welcome banks to underwrite implementation costs and pay royalties, they now believe that offering multi-year exclusivity to a single issuer is unlikely to succeed in practice.

- Operators launching EMV open-loop payments in public transport may need to issue prepaid EMV contactless (transport) cards to customers that are still unbanked or under-banked.

- Acceptance devices for bus transit systems in India face unique challenges that include legacy fleets, huge passenger volumes, crowded vehicles, staff training and device charging requirements.

- India is already seeing acceptance of mobile QR code-based payments in transit, for reloading existing transport cards but also as a direct pay-at-gate solution for single journey tickets.

A complete set of over 75 key conclusions from the conference are available to APSCA India members after logging in here. Conference delegates can use the link in the "Presentations download" email which you received from APSCA last week.

Sign up for the working group!
The following comment is one of several from delegates that highlights the need for an industry working group on Implementing Open-Loop Transport Payments in India. Join us to help develop conclusive answers to these questions and resolve ongoing implementation issues.

Transport authorities, banks and industry experts from APSCA India membership that wish to contribute to the working group should contact [email protected] to submit their expressions of interest. The first working group meeting will be held in Q2, date to be advised.

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