December 31, 2015
Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) is in talks with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to bring out a model for the nationwide implementation of e-tolls (electronic toll) with the aim of removing the jam at toll plazas and ensure hassle-free collection of toll.
At present, toll operations are mostly manual in India and computers are used for issuing toll receipts.
"We want to bring out a model, which is user-friendly as well as widely acceptable. Since NPCI has expertise in this field, we are in talks with them to bring a sustainable model for us. They are likely to submit their report by next month," said sources.
The aim of the e-toll implementation is to have a model with a single clearing house. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are currently enrolled for electronic toll collection (ETC) and both banks have separate clearing houses.
FASTag—a radio frequency identification device that allows vehicle users to proceed with a cashless transaction at toll plazas—is already operational on the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chandigarh and Bengaluru-Chennai highways. There are 35 toll plazas spread across these three stretches with a user base of 2,200. For making FASTag popular among travellers, the government may enroll more banks and set up a single clearing house.
According to sources, by March 2016, the government will implement nationwide ETC based on passive radio frequency identification. Under the proposal, there will be at least one dedicated lane in toll plazas. The ETC system offers the convenience of electronically paying toll at any toll collection point through a single prepaid account. The equipment installation has been completed at 248 fee plazas and integration with the central clearing house at 179 fee plazas.
Presently, vehicle owners use the prepaid account with ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. Once the user completes the registration, the bank issues a prepaid FASTag, which identifies the vehicle. FASTag is affixed on the vehicle's windshield and whenever the vehicle crosses a toll plaza, the applicable toll is deducted automatically from its prepaid account.
The ETC transaction generated at toll plazas is sent to the central clearing house for debiting appropriate toll fee from the account of registered vehicles and crediting the same to the respective toll collection agency. Road users also get an SMS alert for each ETC transaction.
With so much going on in the Indian economy driven by initiatives through multiple stakeholders (growing day-by-day), it seems to look like that day is not far when India will become a cashless society.
As payments become seamless and almost invisible, let the simpler and secure innovative payment solutions made for India emerge from the most populous nation in the world in the decades to come and pave the way for establishing new international standards. Payment solutions from India could lead the way for the world, and we all have an opportunity to contribute in creating this future.