In a letter to customers, Axis Bank managing director and CEO Shikha Sharma said that the lender would be launching smart cards for commuters on the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation  (BMTC) buses and Kochi Metro Rail to make digital payments. Sharma said that Axis Bank would starting the smart cards “in the coming months” but did not provide an exact date. We have reached out to the lender for further details and will update once we hear from them.

Sharma added that the smart cards can also be used in 1.8 million outlets across the country and would eliminate the need to carry multiple cards. “We are also delighted to partner with the New Delhi Municipal Corporation as they take the first step forward in the cashless journey,” Sharma added.

When it comes to metro smart card, Axis Bank isn’t the first and rival ICICI Bank had launched a smart card for the Delhi Metro back in 2014. In July 2011, State Bank of India had also partnered with Bangalore Metro to launch NFC-enabled debit cards, that doubles up as travel smart cards.

However, when it comes to smart cards on buses there are hardly anyone who have been coming p with digital payment solutions.  Public transportation information service Ridlr is one service which allows customers to pay bus fares via their app and this is again limited to only certain routes.

Need to develop payment systems for mass transit

MediaNama had pointed out that despite the huge potential, no one has tried to fix public transportation payments and it’s something that all wallet players could look into. In fact, in 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced a new semi-closed pre-paid instrument (PPI) for mass transit services to help move on from cash-based systems to electronic means. The new instrument will allow users to load Rs 2,000 and have a minimum validity period of six months from the date of issue.

The instrument could also be used at other merchants whose activities are allied to or are carried on within the premises of the issuing mass transit system. An example:  The Delhi Metro could issue a wallet service which can be used to buy food at the food stalls in the station.