Visa launches contactless payment system at NHAI’s Manesar toll plaza

Visa’s “open loop” contactless system will allow payments at NHAI’s Manesar toll plaza to be made with just a tap


NHAI operates around 400 toll plazas across India’s national highways through which more than 20,000 vehicles pass each day. Photo: Mint
NHAI operates around 400 toll plazas across India’s national highways through which more than 20,000 vehicles pass each day. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: In a move aimed at reducing congestion and waiting time of commuters at toll plazas, global payments technology firm Visa has launched a proof-of-concept (PoC) to showcase contactless toll payments at National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) Manesar toll plaza.

The company claims that the “open loop” contactless payments work on near-field communication (NFC) technology which allows the payments to be made with just a tap at the NFC-complaint terminal.

NFC is a set of communication protocols that enable two electronic devices, one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone or a card, to communicate with each other when they are within 4 cm.

“Visa payWave, our contactless payment technology allows users to simply wave and pay using a card or devices like smartphones and is relevant for all modes of transport—metros, buses, and the railways—as our experience with transport for London has shown,” said T.R. Ramachandran, Visa’s group country manager, India & South Asia, in a statement late on Monday.

Currently, only IDFC Bank has partnered with Visa for the first-of-its-kind open loop toll payment in India. Once commercialized, the participating banks will issue the new contactless cards and the existing cards will also get upgraded over a period of time.

Commenting on the launch, Rajiv Lall, founder managing director and chief executive officer, IDFC Bank, Visa’s acquirer bank partner, said, “Once commercialized, the solution will empower travellers to use all bank-issued contactless cards to make toll payments in seconds.”

NHAI operates around 400 toll plazas across India’s national highways through which more than 20,000 vehicles pass each day. With vehicles queued up for an average of 5-10 minutes to complete a toll payment, congestion and waiting time at toll plazas account for a significant portion of the $21.3 billion (comprises $6.6 billion in cost of delay and $14.7 billion in additional fuel spent) that India is estimated to lose each year, according to a study by Visa.

This PoC takes forwards the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Payment Vision 2018 of moving India to a less-cash society. According to the RBI, toll collections are largely cash based, and efforts to migrate to electronic payments have been sporadic and isolated. As a result, India has a range of different toll collection systems across the country, not only causing confusion and inconvenience to commuters, but also pushing them further into cash payments.

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