Unlock India: Mass Transit payment startups aiming to achieve traction


COVID-19 pandemic gave a push to online purchases. Consumers are now depending on digital payment options because of the virus outbreak. However, public transport systems, such as buses, trains and metro rail, cash remained the primary medium of payment. So, Indian fintech startup aiming to achieve more in Unlock 4.0 as India resuming public transport. They are focussing on mass transit payment products.

Fintech startup companies in India found the pandemic as an opportunity to expand their service to mass transit or public transport systems as well. Companies like CityCash and Chalo are leading the charge in this. According to industry estimates, public transport is a huge market, more than 68 million commuters using it as a mode of transportation. Payment startups are in talks with state-owned bus corporations and waterways for mass adoption of NFC-enabled, ‘open loop’ prepaid cards for transit ticketing. Startups are experimenting with new payment models to use in the area where the internet is less accessible.

Public sector entities like Kochi metro and Delhi metro had introduced card payment. Its a closed-loop payment instrument. The fintech companies are working on it to replace it with open-loop payment instruments. It can be used not only for the metro but also for all types of transports and even for small shops. Countries like Hong-kong, Dubai, and London have their open-loop payment model and have been using it for over a decade. India is almost a decade behind in the mass transit payment system and the fintech companies are trying to change its current status by adopting an innovative mass transit payment system.

Till now CityCash has issued around 3 million cards to consumers and is accepted in 20,000 buses in Maharashtra. Chalo offers both the payment hardware such as NFC-enabled point of sale device, a mobile application that helps tracks buses and routes in real-time, and an NFC-enabled prepaid card to make offline transactions. Chalo also offers an electronic bus-pass product that can be availed using the Chalo mobile app. It is currently operational in cities like Indore, Bhopal, Patna, Guwahati, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Madurai, Vijayawada, and Udupi.


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