Absa trials ‘tap-and-go’ payment cards

23 September 2011

Absa and Integrated Fare Collection Services, a DigiCore subsidiary, are working on an integrated transit payment solution South Africa’s public transport sector, including the taxi industry, with a pilot project currently underway in the Western Cape.

The new “tap-and-go” payment cards will provide transit owners and commuters with a simple and efficient way to manage payments for transport services. The two companies are already exploring opportunities with associations in other provinces.

The cards will use global card standards, namely MasterCard Paypass and Visa Paywave, and are designed to work seamlessly across a number of modes of public transport as they are brought online.

“The tap-and-go payment method will also allow commuters and other consumers to conveniently pay for low value purchases in retail outlets,” said Absa Card’s Simon Just in a statement this week. “So, a customer can move from a taxi to a bus to a grocer using the same card on the same day.

“As of 2012, commuters will even be able to have this payment option on their normal bank cards.”

National transport infrastructure upgrades

As part of national transport infrastructure upgrades, the Department of Transport and local transport authorities have been driving new card-based approaches to fare collection, with the aim of providing commuters with speed, simplicity and convenience when they travel.

These will require commuters to tap a prepaid card against readers to pay their transport fares as they enter public vehicles.

“Although adoption of this trendsetting service will be gradual, it is gaining momentum,” said Just. “A few major city bus operators and key retailers are starting to roll out tap-and-go payments, and the bank will make it possible for its customers to obtain Absa tap-and-go cards from selected Absa branches as from November 2011.”

No PIN or signature required

Tap-and-Go transactions will be limited to R200 per day and users will be able to load a maximum of R1 500 on the card at any time, while the total monthly transaction limit is R3 000.

“This is in line with the special exemption from the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, which makes for ease of issuing of contactless cards to under-banked consumers,” Just explained.

Commuters will be able to load funds onto their cards from a bank account or with cash at a transit or station kiosk, vending machines, ATMs or selected merchants.

Customers can then make purchases with their contactless card until the pre-loaded balance is used up by simply agreeing to the amount and tapping the card against a reader. No PIN or signature is required.

Secure alternative to cash

For public transport operators, the new fare collection system reduces pilferage, provides a more secure alternative to cash and paper tickets and significantly enhances overall efficiencies – while also making a difference in the everyday life of the commuter.

DigiCore’s Integrated Fare Collection Services (IFCS) has developed a robust fare collection solution called Tap-i-Fare for transit operators, which uses advanced route planning, GPS and vehicle tracking technology, to calculate fares and ensure that commuters are charged correctly for their journey.

IFCS managing director Pierre Bruwer said that even though the system was up and running, there was still much work to do with taxi associations and other stakeholders in order to finalise the operating model and roll-out plans.

“We have engaged a number of taxi owners, operators and associations,” he said. “They appreciate the benefits of the new approach to rapid transit payments.

“We are confident that it will be embraced in the way that government has intended.”

SAinfo reporter

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