Last month, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore unveiled its vision for a completely cashless public transport system in Singapore by 2020. As one of the initiatives to drive progress towards the vision, LTA has been piloting Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) since March 2017, in collaboration with Mastercard. Commuters have been able to enjoy a hassle-free public transport ticketing experience with their contactless credit and debit cards, by simply tapping their card on the bus or MRT (Mass Rapid Transit which forms the major component of the railway system in Singapore) fare readers. Commuters are charged for their public transport rides in their credit or debit card bill.
More than 100,000 commuters have signed up for the pilot since its launch in March 2017. During this period, there has been an average of over 60,000 transactions daily.
In response to the positive feedback, the LTA will extend this ABT pilot with Mastercard beyond the original duration of six months, and Visa and NETS will also come on board the ABT pilot from June 2018. Details are expected to be announced in due course.
With the pilot extension, current ABT users can continue paying for their public transport rides with their Mastercard contactless credit or debit cards, and tracking their transactions online via the TransitLink ABT Portal or Mobile Services app. Commuters who wish to enjoy the same convenience are encouraged to sign up at https://abt.transitlink.com.sg/.
The pilot will allow LTA and its partners to finetune operations before LTA offers ABT to all commuters on a permanent basis in future. Commuters who do not have credit or debit cards will still be able to use their existing CEPAS travel cards (such as current ez-link, NETS FlashPay or LTA concession cards) for their public transport rides.
As part of the ABT pilot with Mastercard, LTA will also trial the use of mobile payment modes, such as Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, for public transport payments from the first quarter of 2018. Commuters participating in this trial will not even need a card and can simply use their mobile phones to tap in and out on trains and buses. The objective is to leverage Singapore’s high mobile penetration rate to opens up opportunities in the area of mobile payments.
E-payments is one of the key national strategic projects the Singapore government is focusing on, as part of Singapore’s smart nation plans. Mr. Ngien Hoon Ping, Chief Executive of LTA, said, “LTA is excited to enable commuters to enjoy the convenience brought by e-payments in public transport. Together with our partners, we aim for the ABT pilot extension, expansion and eventually permanent roll-out to be the basis of our shift towards commuter-centric e-payments. Even as we do so, we remain committed to an inclusive public transport system, and will make e-payments more accessible for all commuters.”
Ms. Deborah Heng, Country Manager of Mastercard Singapore, said, “We are delighted with the results from the Account-Based Ticketing pilot which has been a positive experience for daily transit users, removing the hassle of topping up and enabling commuters to use their Mastercard contactless card for everything from groceries, food and beverage, to retail and entertainment and now for transit payments as well. We look forward to expanding the number of active Mastercard cardholders in public transportation as we work towards driving greater use of e-payments in Singapore.”
“We are delighted to be part of this initiative to further Singapore’s push to e-payments. NETS is today one of the most widely-used cards for everyday payments such as retail and F&B purchases and extending its use to the transit sector will make it even more convenient for commuters,” said Mr. Jeffrey Goh, Chief Executive Officer, NETS.
Ms Ooi Huey Tyng, Visa Country Manager for Singapore and Brunei, commented, “We are excited to work with LTA to enable Visa payWave contactless cards for transit. Visa payWave solution is inter-operable, with Singaporeans making more than 8 million contactless transactions per month. We believe our cardholders will welcome the ability to now tap and pay for their transportation as well. Transit payments will help more Singaporeans realise how simple and convenient contactless payments are, and accelerate our goal of becoming a smart nation.”
NETS is a leading retail payments company in Singapore and operates Singapore’s national debit scheme. NETS also operates the largest acceptance network comprising 100,000 acceptance points and 35,000 Unified Point-of-Sale (Unified POS) terminals nation-wide.