Absa and DigiCore unveil public transport sector solution

The two companies have kicked off a pilot project in the Western Cape and are also already exploring opportunities with associations in other provinces.

In line with Absa’s ongoing pursuit to provide innovative products and services that enhance customer service, 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.  Absa pioneered the tap-and-go solution towards the latter part of last year.

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

The aim is to provide commuters with speed, simplicity and convenience when they travel. The new cards will use global card standards, namely MasterCard Paypass and Visa Paywave. They are designed to work seamlessly in a number of modes of 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. 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,” says Simon Just, head of consumer cards at Absa Card.

“Although adoption of this trendsetting service will be gradual, it is gaining momentum,” says 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.”

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. 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 adds.

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 (Personal Identification Number) or signature is required.

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.

DigiCore’s 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.

“While today’s announcement marks the fact that the solution has been tested and that Absa and DigiCore are open for business, there is still much work to do with taxi associations and other stakeholders in order to finalise the operating model and roll-out plans,” says Pierre Bruwer, Managing Director of IFCS.

The Tap-i-Fare™ solution offers taxi owners and associations a mutually beneficial solution that will make a difference in the everyday life of the commuter. “We have engaged a number of taxi owners, operators and associations. 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.” says Bruwer.

“With this new tap-and-go payment solution for public transport, Absa continues to take the lead in providing simple payment solutions to the South African public. We have the opportunity to offer these in the unbanked market. Eventually, our aim is to empower all our customer segments to use other banking services such as the ATMs and point-of-sale terminals,” concludes Just.

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Absa and DigiCore unveil public transport sector solution