FASTags can now be purchased directly from e-commerce platform Amazon, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said. FASTags, originally introduced in 2014, are prepaid RFID tags which can be used to pay for tolls on highways without stopping at the plaza. These have been accepted across India’s entire highway network since 2017. For now, the e-tags will be available for cars, jeeps and vans, and are being provided as a “DIY (do it yourself) concept”: No bank is pre-assigned to the FASTag at the time of purchase, and users can buy them, and can customise payments via an Android app. Currently, the bank linking facility is available for 7 member banks: SBI, ICICI Bank, Axis bank, HDFC bank, IndusInd Bank, Paytm Payments bank and Equitas Small Finance Bank.
FASTags are also being issued by 22 certified banks at places like National Highways toll plazas and selected bank branches. However, these FASTags do not offer customers the option for linking with a bank account of his/her choice. “The online availability of NHAI FASTag by IHMCL will eventually help enhanced adoption of FASTag programme by increasing user convenience and offering seamless digital payments of toll and thereby saving time, money and fuel,” the statement said.
46 lakh FASTags have accounted for 25% of toll revenue so far
The decision of selling FASTags on Amazon comes in the backdrop of an announcement made by NHAI in April, that FASTags accounted for around a quarter of the total collection done at toll booths since 2016, after the launch of NHAI’s National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program in December 2016. The NPCI said that it currently processes 8.62 lakh transactions done via FASTags, a day – a significant bump from just about 30,000 transactions a day in January 2017. The same month, The Asian Age reported that by the end of 2019, FASTag transactions are likely grow by 150%. In the backdrop of this report, making the FASTag accessible by making it available on a platform of Amazon’s popularity makes complete sense. However, an important question here would be to ask if FASTags, given their current popularity, be limited to only toll transactions, or if a way could be found to use them at multiple locations.
FASTags look like a measure to curb tax evasion
One key area where the government is looking to make use of the FASTag is at toll booths to tackle the menace of tax evasions done on India’s highways. In January, ET reported that the government had set up a committee to integrate e-way bill, FASTag and DMIC’s Logistics Data Bank (LDB) services, after consultation with transporters. The integration was expected to happen by April, however, at the time of writing this story that hasn’t been achieved yet.