Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 4, 2019 launched the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) post the inauguration of the Ahmedabad metro. The NCMC card, also dubbed as ‘One Nation, One Card,’ is a Pan-India mobility card which can be used to make payments for public transport across the country ensuring seamless travel for people through metros and other transport systems.

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What is the National Common Mobility Card?

National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)

The National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), launched on the model of One Nation One Card, is an inter-operable transport card introduced by the Ministry of Urban Development of the Government of India. The transport card enables users to withdraw money and pay for multiple kinds of charges including transport, metro services, toll tax, parking charges, retail shopping.

The NCMC Card is issued as a prepaid, debit, or credit RuPay card from partnered banks such as Paytm Payments Bank, State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and others.

How to use the National Common Mobility Card?

  • The RuPay Card has been merged with the Common Mobility Card to allow both money transactions and manage travel expenses.
  • The card would be functioning on the ‘One Nation, One Card’ model across India, as per officials from the Union ministry of Urban Affairs who have been planning it since the year 2006, when it was first envisaged as part of the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP).
  • Notably, the stored value on the card supports offline transaction across all travel needs, with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders.
  • The card supports several service area features such as monthly passes, season tickets, etc.
  • The NCMC card also offers a value proposition for customers as they would not need to carry multiple cards for different usage.
  • PM Modi also introduced an automatic fare-collection system (AFC) called Sweekar, and a gate and card-reader system Swagat. It is India’s first indigenously developed payment ecosystem for transport, consisting of NCMC. The three combined would enable the use of the national mobility card across the country without a conflict arising from existing point-of-sale (PoS) machines, said an official.

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Why the National Common Mobility Card?

Public transport in India is a common and convenient mode of transport for people from all walks of life. Generally, cash payments are the most common and preferred mode of fare payments, but there are times when people run out of cash while travelling in a metro, bus or train or for toll and parking. There are other numerous challenges associated with cash payments as well like cash handling, revenue leakages, cash reconciliation, etc.

Taking these challenges into consideration, the transit operators have been undertaking several initiatives in order to digitise the fare collection using ‘Automatic Fare Collection’ System (AFC). However, the adoption by customers got limited due to the restrictive nature of these payment instruments.

Notably, the AFC System at the gates, validators, and backend infrastructure is the core of any transit operator to automate the fare collection process. Till date, the AFS deployed at various metros in India are from foreign clients due to a dearth of an indigenous local solutions provider.

To develop indigenous standards and AFC system under Make in India initiative, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs came out with the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) Program for seamless travel across metros and other transport systems.

Agencies who put together the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)

  • 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 NCMC.
  • NPCI was given the mandate to develop the specifications for card & terminal to support the NCMC ecosystem.
  • On account of the best global practices and dynamics of the Indian market, the committee recommended EMV based Open Loop Card with stored value as NCMC.
  • CDAC finalised NCMC specification for AFC system including the interface with Bank server. CDAC and NPCI joined hands to complete this activity.
  • Thereafter, BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited) was roped in for making Gates and Reader. Notably, it is the first gate and the reader which has been manufactured by an Indian company (BEL). This is also the first indigenous payment reader which has been certified as per International standards. Through this, India joins the very few elite nations who have indigenous capacity on gate and reader production.

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