Even before the Bangalore’s Namma Metro officially commences services, State Bank of India has announced NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled debit cards, that will double up as travel smart cards, enabling commuters to pay for their journeys with a simple tap, reports The New Indian Express. The debit cards, which the bank will start issuing today onwards, will have a built-in e-purse to store a pre-paid amount. According to SBI Deputy MD (corporate strategy and new businesses), C Narasimhan, the e-purse can be topped at the nearest ATM or through mobile banking or internet banking, in addition to cash topups. The card can be used just like a normal debit card for ATM cash withdrawals and merchant transactions.
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation claims that the debit-cum travel card is the first of its kind in the world. The card will be initially offered to SBI customers, and will be later extended to customers of other banks as more tie-ups are inked. We do not know if there will be a reward system or a discount on fare, for customers using the card.
This might be the first time when NFC has been used with a debit card in India, however it’s not the first time that a Bank and Metro Railway service have partnered for a co-branded travel card. Citibank also offers a Delhi Metro Credit Card, that acts as a travel smart card, albeit through a different chip. It also enables commuters to load the smart card with cash at selected stations, charging the amount to the card by way of a swipe. In addition to a 10% discount on fare, the card also offers rewards points, which can be redeemed for free travel.
This also implies that the Bangalore Metro’s commuter check-in terminals will be NFC enabled, which means that it will be able to accept payments from other NFC enabled devices, including mobile phones, if BMRC inks a deal with a mobile service/mobile payments provider. P.S – The Japanese have been using their phones as travel smart cards, since ages.