Kochi Metro, Axis Bank ink pact for fare collection

Kochi: Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) has signed a public-private partnership (PPP) pact with Axis Bank for the automated fare collection (AFC) system. The agreement was signed between KMRL managing director, Elias George, and Axis Bank managing director and CEO, Shikha Sharma, in the presence of urban development minister, Venkaiah Naidu, in Delhi.

Under the agreement, investment for the entire funding required for the AFC system will be undertaken by Axis Bank, which will also maintain it for 10 years.

The the bank will pay a royalty of Rs 209 crore over the next 10 years for the right to be KMRL’s partner in this endeavour. In return, Axis Bank will get the right to issue co-branded cards, which will function as a smart card as well as a ticket, to the users of the metro.

In addition to this, 0.2 per cent of Axis Bank’s gross revenue, from the utilisation of this card outside KMRL’s ecosystem in various mercantile outlets and internet transactions, will also accrue to KMRL over the next 10 years, a press statement said.

Axis Bank is partnering with Asis electronik Ve Bilisim Sistemleri, AS, a Turkish company, for the infrastructure and AGS Transact Technologies Limited for the integration and maintenance in the system.

The AFC system is a critical core component of any metro system. It includes complex hardware and software installed at entry points of metro stations as well as buses and boats. It uses radio frequency identification devices (RFID) to collect fares from the users. In such a system, the metro ticket can be in the form of a co-branded card or an NFC-enabled smart phone or a ‘patch’ on a mobile device or any other surface with NFC stickers or QR code, or even as a paper-coupon.

The smart card can be linked with any bank account of the user, in any bank, including Jan-Dhan Yojana, said, George.

Shikha Sharma said creating a payment infrastructure that supports cashless payments is an integral part of growth of smart cities in the country.

KMRL is planning a ‘click and collect’ system whereby the commuter will be able to order goods and services using this card, which can be delivered at all metro stations. It is also planning to start a drive for including a variety of local and national goods and services that can be accessed using the KMRL-Axis Bank co-branded card.

This is also for the first time that the AFC solution has been enabled on the Cloud-based hardware in line with KMRL’s IT philosophy of ‘open standards on the Cloud’. In addition to the co-branded card, the bank will also develop a mobile app, which can be used for ticketing as well as e-commerce.

This initiative is unique in that it is for the first time that ‘open-loop’ smart cards are being introduced in the metro system. The urban development ministry has mandated all metros to have an integrated smart card system, which can be used in all transit. KMRL had appointed Ernst & Young as consultants for drawing the specification of the smart card system.