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National Common Mobility Card

National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) - One Nation, One Card for transport mobility is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to enable seamless travel by different metros and other transport systems across the country besides retail shopping and purchases.

The Indigenous Automatic Fare Collection System based on One Nation One Card Model is the first of its kind in India.

What is NCMC

These are bank issued cards on Debit/Credit/Prepaid card product platform. The customer may use this single card for payments across all segments including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail. The stored value on card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders. The service area feature of this card supports operator specific applications e.g. monthly passes, season tickets etc.

Need for NCMC

Public Transport is extensively used across India as the economical and convenient mode of commuting for all classes of society. Cash continues to be the most preferred mode of fare payments across the public transport. However, there are multiple challenges associated with the cash payment e.g. cash handling, revenue leakages, cash reconciliation etc. Various initiatives have been taken by transit operators to automate & digitize the fare collection using Automatic Fare Collection System (AFC). The introduction of closed loop cards issued by these operators helped to digitize the fare collection to a significant extent. However, the restricted usability of these payment instruments limits the digital adoption by customers.

AFC System (gates, readers/validators, backend infrastructure etc.) is the core of any transit operator to automate the fare collection process. The major challenge associated with AFC system implementation in India till now is the lack of indigenous solution provider. Till now, AFC systems deployed at various Metros are from foreign players. In order to avoid the vendor lock-in and create an interoperable system, there was a need to develop indigenous standards and AFC system under Make in India initiative.

In order to ensure a seamless travel across metros and other transport systems in addition to retail shopping and purchases, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) came out with the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) Program.

Key Features of NCMC

Key Functionalities/ParticularsNCMC Proposition
Payment Model Card based payment model
Transaction Type Supports online (contact & contactless) & off-line (contactless) transactions
Stored Value Provision to store balance on card for offline payments

Provision for multiple service areas

Multiple service areas (optional to use with mutual concurrence) to support acquirer/operator specific programs e.g. Passes / Season Tickets / Smart City Specific application / Loyalty points etc.
Card usage Same card to be used at ATMs, Merchant establishments & online (e-commerce) payments in addition to other areas of contactless payments viz., transit, toll, parking& other small value merchant payments
Card issuance
  • Can be issued by any member authorized by RBI
  • On the platform of Debit/Prepaid/Credit Cards
Topping up the stored value Provision of Topping up the stored value through any mode of payment viz., Online using card, Internet Banking, IVR, ATM, Cash at customer service point, auto top-up etc.at the option of the issuing entity
Offline Transaction Risk Since the offline transaction is permitted against stored value on card, there is minimal risk of any loss to the bank or merchants
Security Underlying technology i.e. EMV is best available globally.
Cost of providing contactless card to the customer RBI has mandated that effective Feb 01, 2016, all cards issued by banks in India would be EMV. Therefore, cost of providing contactless card to the customer will be only marginal as against steep increase in territories where mag-stripe ecosystem exists.
Synergy with existing technology NCMC specifications can co-exist with the existing technology being used by acquirer/operator and migration to common standards may be achieved gradually to suit the convenience.

Source : NPCI Concept Note on NCMC Implementation

NCMC standards

A committee was formed with representatives from National Informatics Centre (NIC), Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) and the Ministry of Finance with an objective to develop the vendor agnostic interoperable ecosystem for NCMC including indigenous AFC System and banking interface.

NPCI was given the mandate to develop the specifications for card & terminal to support the NCMC ecosystem. Based on the best global practices and dynamics of Indian market, the committee recommended EMV based Open Loop Card with stored value as NCMC.

CDAC was entrusted the task of finalization of NCMC specification for AFC system including the interface with Bank server. CDAC worked in collaboration with NPCI to complete this activity. Thereafter, BEL was roped in for making Gates & Reader.

The Gate & Reader prototype has been made by BEL. This is the first gate and the reader which has been manufactured by an Indian company. This is also the first indigenous payment reader which has been certified as per International standards. India joins the very few elite nations who have indigenous capacity on gate and reader production.

To access the complete standards, click here.

Benefits of NCMC

NCMC Ecosystem offers the value proposition for customers as they need not to carry multiple cards for different usage. Further, the super quick contactless transactions will improve the seamless experience. For operators, NCMC ecosystem brings common standards for implementation without vendor lock-in.

This will also help in higher digital payments penetration, savings on closed loop card lifecycle management cost and reduced operating cost. The rich data insights may be used by operators for business intelligence leading to efficient operation.

With NCMC Ecosystem, Banks will get an access to segments which are highly driven by cash but stickiness in nature. NCMC Ecosystem will further help government in digitization of low value payments and reduced cost for the entire ecosystem.

Source : Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs



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