Monday, August 6, 2012

Metro Rails In India To Get NFC Ticketing

Nokia India is apparently in talks with a majority of the metro rail projects in the country to introduce a Near Field Communication (NFC) based ticketing system for its consumers, reports mydigitalfc. The report states that Nokia has partnered with the mobile payment company Paymate for NFC solutions and has tied up with banks for this service.

Speaking to the publication, D Shivakumar, Senior Vice President, IMEA region informed that this service will enable Metro service providers to reduce long queues and other problems associated with getting train tickets and claimed that NFC along with mobile money service would be an ideal solution for this problem.

That being said, he refused to provide any further details on the service or its rollout, although the Delhi Metro Rail project has started a similar pilot project and the Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL) is currently inviting bids from merchant acquirer banks which have been certified to process credit and or debit card payments, to participate in its tender for an automatic fare collection system, as indicated by the mydigitalfc report

Nokia-Paymate Partnership: In November 2011, Nokia had partnered with Paymate and makers of Ra.One during the launch of NFC-equipped Nokia 700 and 701, to offer movie related content including ringtones and wallpapers through NFC tags. PayMate had also installed 20,000 tags across Nokia outlets, shopping malls and movie theatres. In conversation with Medianama, Ajay Adiseshann, founder and MD of PayMate, had stated that Ra.One NFC campaign was the first step to introduce NFC in the Indian market and had costed them $100,000, however the company was still testing waters with the technology and it intends to launch NFC-based products in the future, for which it was in talks with a few players in the segment.

SBI-Bangalore Metro Partnership: Last May, State Bank of India had partnered with Bangalore Metro to launch co-branded NFC enabled debit cards, which will also double up as travel smart cards, enabling commuters to pay for their journeys with a simple tap. While the card was initially offered to SBI customers, it was to be later extended to customers of other banks as more tie-ups are inked.

However, one significant difference is that Nokia’s service will allow users to use their phone itself as travel smart cards, thereby skipping the need for an additional smart card.

Will it be feasible? While Nokia has a couple of NFC-equipped mobile phones like the Symbian-based Nokia 701, Nokia 700, Nokia 603, Nokia 808 Pureview and the recently launched Windows Phone-based Lumia 610, the phones are still quite expensive with no NFC-equipped phones available in the Rs 10,000 range.

So we are not sure if this service will be feasible unless Nokia launches a series of NFC-equipped feature phones (hopefully in the low-cost Nokia Asha range) over the next few months and prices them aggressively to increase the user adoption rate of NFC technology. That being said, it’s a welcome move and it will be interesting to see if other phone manufacturers like Samsung, Micromax, Karbonn among others take a cue from this development, to launch low-cost NFC phones and offer similar services to its customers.

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