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Digital payments platforms witnessed a spike in issuances and recharges of FASTags, in a build up to the announcement on Sunday that the deadline for rolling out FASTags for all commercial and private vehicles plying through toll plazas will not be extended beyond Monday midnight.

Bengaluru-based PhonePe said new-user recharges for FASTags rose 23% in February, compared to last month.

Paytm Payments Bank, which issues FASTags and provides the digital payments infrastructure at toll booths through the service, has added close to 2 million new FASTag users since November. In January and February, it added another 1 million new users. It services FASTag payments in 250 toll plazas across India, compared to the 211 in October.

“Paytm Payments Bank has set up kiosks at multiple toll plazas and all major transport hubs to promote FASTags. Also, the number of kiosks has been ramped up in tier 1-4 locations," a company spokesperson said.

However, it did not provide data on FASTag recharge as the toll charges are directly deducted from the Paytm wallet.

“Paytm users do not need to separately recharge their FASTag accounts and the toll charges are deducted directly from the Paytm wallet. Therefore, it is not feasible to calculate any spike in FASTag recharges," the Paytm spokesperson said.

Amazon declined to comment on Mint’s queries, while MobiKwik did not respond till press time.

Digital payment firms and banks are working on mechanisms to address issues of inaccurate toll charges on FASTags and are setting up grievance redressal mechanisms for the service.

FASTag, an electronic toll collection system operated by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), is currently live across over 720 toll plazas, with 29 banking partners, data from National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) shows.

FASTag transactions steadily picked up from last June, once the economy started opening up gradually, and reached an all-time high of 148.5 million monthly transactions in January 2021, NPCI data shows. The total value of the digital toll service grew to 2,397 crore in January.

FASTag was developed by NPCI and was introduced in November 2016 during India’s demonetization exercise.

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