Last month,  the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has received the go-ahead from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to launch semi-closed prepaid wallet (PPI/wallet). It is now among the 84 entities that currently have an operational PPI/wallet license.

According to a note from the RBI, the license has been taken for a prepaid payment instrument (PPI) for Mass Transit Systems. As far as we know, it is the only entity to have a mass transit wallet despite the fact that the RBI had set guidelines for the same back in July 2015.

The instrument will allow users to load Rs 2,000 and have a minimum validity period of six months from the date of issue. But it’s usage will, however, be limited to mostly stations. From the guidelines:  The instrument can 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.

 

The DMRC reported a total cumulative ridership of 1.001 billion for the 12 month period ended 31st March 2017 (FY17), growing 6.56% in average daily ridership year on year. In FY16, it reported around Rs 1649 crores in revenues from fares, for which the cards would have been used (download annual report: PDF, 61 mb).

Given the usage, imagine if the same RFID card can be used for pay for more than just transport, across the city of Delhi. The DMRC also has external projects, and is a turn-key consultant for Jaipur, Kochi, Noida-Greater Noida, Mumbai (Line No. 7) and the Vijaywada metro, and is a consultant for several others.

It could end up running a National Metro Card, but…

Is the National Common Mobility Card “no More”?

UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services Ltd (UTI-ITSL), the Government of India company which was running the National Common Mobility Card, has surrendered its wallet license, as per information released by the Reserve Bank of India. The license was issued on the 21st of March 2014, and was surrendered on February 07, 2017 a little over two years before its validity ran out on 31st of March 2019. The card, known as the More card, was then being used by the DMRC.

Now we can’t be sure if the plan for a National Common Mobility Card has been abandoned. We checked, and in November 2016, the Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain, in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, said that

“National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has been entrusted to prepare the standards & specifications of the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC).”

That essentially means that there’s no headway in rolling out the National Common Mobility Card, because this was the exact same situation in September 2015:

The Urban Development Ministry has decided to task the National Payments Corporation of India with indigenous development and management of Clearing and Settlement of payments, Simulating Cards, Terminals and network, a support base of vendors for providing certified tools, cards, terminals and other services.

There is no recent update on the Ministry of Urban Development’s National Common Mobility Card website. Two meetings were held in January and February 2016, the minutes of which are available here (pdf) and here (pdf).