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Transit ticketing in Asia Pacific: Moving towards contactless payments [free access]

October 1, 2016

In Asia Pacific, there is emphasis on the deployment of advanced and interoperable automated fare collection (AFC) systems such as smartcards and near field communication (NFC)-enabled devices to increase both the efficiency of transport systems and ridership by giving commuters a smooth travel experience. Cities with upcoming systems are installing such systems to avoid additional costs at a later stage and cities with legacy systems are upgrading AFC systems because many of the latest offerings in the market are smart and cost-effective.


An analysis of 28 key cities in the Asia Pacific is discussed below. It covers the current status of fare systems, level of integration, plans for the future and recent developments.


Existing systems


Table 1 indicates the types of tickets deployed in the Asia-Pacific region cities covered in the report.


Table 1: Types of tickets deployed in Asia-Pacific


No. of cities




Ahmedabad, Bangkok, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, Mumbai, Shanghai, Taipei

Paper tickets


Astana, Bangkok, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Dhaka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lahore, Lucknow, Manila, Mumbai, Nagpur

Magnetic tickets


Chengdu, Manila, Tokyo

Contactless smartcards


Ahmedabad, Astana, Bangkok, Beijing, Bengaluru, Chengdu, Chennai, Delhi, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kaohsiung, Kochi, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, Manila, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo

Bank cards


Bangkok, Bengaluru, Delhi, Jakarta, Manila, Singapore

Mobile ticketing (NFC)


Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Singapore, Tokyo

Source: Global Mass Transit Research



Integration and interoperability

Many cities in the region with multiple operators have integration across modes and operators. Most of the cities that are yet to achieve integration amongst operators are in India, Pakistan and Indonesia.  Table 2 indicates the level of fare integration for cities in the region.


Table 2: Level of fare integration in Asia-Pacific


No. of cities


Integrated ticketing for multiple modes and single operator



Kuala Lumpur

Multi-modal and multi-operator integration






Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai
















South Korea









Multiple operators, no integration






Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai




Source: Global Mass Transit Research


Hong Kong’s Octopus card can be used in Shenzhen and Macau. Shenzhen’s Tong and Octopus have together launched a single transit card that can be used in both locations. The Octopus Lingnan Pass was launched in Hong Kong and in 17 Guangdong cities.



Singapore successfully transitioned from magnetic-stripe tickets used in the 1990s to a contactless interoperable smartcard system in December 2008. The current system is multi-purpose, multi-issuer and interoperable. Contactless smartcards, bankcards and NETS FlashPay are used for fare collection. All three forms are accepted on all public transport modes.


The smartcard, Enhanced Integrated Fare System (EIFS), was rolled out in April 2002. Currently, it is issued by EZ-Link Private Limited, NETS and Transit Link Private Limited.


Primarily, two types of smartcards are used for fare collection on public transit—EZ-Link and NETS. Both systems deploy Symphony for e-Payment (SeP), an enhanced ticketing system based on open standards and allowing multiple card managers.


The SeP system was built on the Singapore Standard for Contactless ePurse Application (CEPAS) system.


The EZ-Link is based on Japan-based Sony’s FeliCa technology. It is a single, multi-purpose, stored-value contactless card that can be used for fare payment, small-value retail purchases, taxi and parking. 


In August 2003, EZ-Link Private Limited and Visa Asia Pacific introduced the Bank Card scheme that linked the EZ-Link card to a customer’s credit or debit card for automatic top-up. In April 2006, EZ-Link Private Limited signed an agreement with Visa Asia Pacific and QB Private Limited giving Visa exclusive rights to embed EZ-Link functionality in Visa credit, debit and prepaid cards in Singapore.


In May 2012, EZ-Link, in partnership with mobile phone operator M1 and MasterCard Worldwide, combined payments of public transit, retail and mobile recharge with the launch of the multi-purpose card, M1 Prepaid MasterCard. The card rewards spending with airtime.



The contactless fare collection technology using integrated chip (IC) cards provides interoperability among cards issued by 10 transit groups covering 52 rail operators and 96 bus transit companies. The system is integrated across the entire country, making it one of the largest in the world, covering over 80 million smartcards.


The fare card alliance includes the Suica card (launched in 2001) of JR East and the Pasmo card (launched in 2007) of private railway companies. Both cards use Sony’s FeliCa technology and can be used on all modes of transport and at shops, restaurants, convenience stores (that display the logos of Suica, Kitaca, Pasmo, TOICA, Manaca, ICOCA, SUGOCA, Nimoca or Hayakaken), and vending machines (where the Pasmo or Suica logos are displayed). As of May 2015, 30,641 shops were accepting the IC alliance cards.


The Suica and Pasmo cards can be purchased from ticket vending machines (TVMs) at commuter train and subway stations. Pasmo can be charged on board buses. The five types of Pasmo cards available include blank, named, children, commuter ticket and auto-charge enabled. Suica cards are available from JR East (Suica card, the personalised MySuica card, and View Suica card), Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit (Rinkai Suica card) and Tokyo Monorail (Monorail Suica card).


Passengers accumulate bus points when they board a bus using the Suica or Pasmo card. These points can be utilised to get free bus tickets for future travel. 


As of March 2013, 42.47 million Suica cards were in circulation, up from 30 million in October 2009. Suica is accepted at 4,365 stations and on 21,000 buses nationwide. It is used for 3.4 million transactions daily. As of March 2015, 26 railway operators and 75 bus operators accepted Pasmo.


The Osaifu-Keitai mobile wallet scheme was launched in 2004 by NTT Docomo and is supported by mobile operators such as au, SoftBank Mobile and Willcom. It incorporates Sony’s Mobile FeliCa payment technology and enables applications such as Mobile Suica. The smartphone is swiped over the compatible fare gate for automatic fare deduction. Mobile Suica allows the purchase of different types of commuter rail passes, express tickets and premium tickets; online retail purchases; reservations for JR Tokai Shinkansen; loading credit card, loyalty card and identity card. As of March 2013, there were about 3.11 million mobile wallet users.




Table 3 provides details of cities with plans for AFC procurement.


Table 3: Cities with plans for AFC procurement 


No. of cities


Contactless smartcards


Astana, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lucknow, Nagpur

Bank cards


Bengaluru, Kochi

Mobile ticketing



Fare media integration


Bangkok, Chennai, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur

Deployment of AFC


Chengdu, Nagpur

Source: Global Mass Transit Research


Recent developments

The following developments were recorded in September 2016:


-          In Philippines, AF Payments Incorporated announced plans to install the tap-and-go Beep payment system in point-to-point (P2P) buses operated by RRCG Transport on the route from Alabang Town Center (ATC) to Greenbelt 1 (Makati City) after a successful trial run in Manila. The Beep card is accepted on all three elevated railways (LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT 3), selected bus lines and the Cavite Expressway.

-          In Japan, East Japan Railway announced plans to offer Suica smart ticketing and contactless payment system on Apple Pay starting from October 2016. It will allow users to add their Suica card or season ticket to their device and use the device at the contactless readers. Suica was launched in 2001 and is accepted at 4,789 stations in Japan.  It can also be used for bus travel and retail transactions.

-          Malaysia’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Corporation awarded a MYR152.9-million contract to a consortium of Spanish-based Indra Sistemas S.A (80 per cent) and Malaysia-based Rasma Corporation (20 per cent) to supply an AFC system for Line 2 of the Klang Valley MRT system.


The following developments were recorded in Singapore in the past six months:


-          In July 2016, the Singapore LTA and MasterCard signed a contract agreement to launch a pilot for account-based ticketing system by end-2016. The system will enable commuters to pay fares on the metro and bus using contactless debit or credit cards. The fare history and journey can be tracked through a web portal or via a mobile app. In addition, LTA has plans to introduce contactless payment via mobile phones in the future.

-          In April 2016, Singapore LTA, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, and EZ-Link launched the use of mobile phones equipped with NFC technology for public transport payments. The trial ended in February 2016 and involved testing of 15 NFC-enabled mobile phone models with the new NFC SIM. It recorded more than 30,000 transactions by 1,000 users. The new system allows payments on mass rapid transit (MRT), light-rail transit (LRT) and public buses; more than 30,000 EZ-link acceptance points for retail, food and beverage purchases; and taxis. The users can also check their account balance, transaction history, and top-up value using the EZ-Link mobile application. Netherlands-based Gemalto will supply the UpTeq Multi-Tenant NFC SIMs for the rollout of the service.    


The following developments were recorded in India in the past six months:


-          In September 2016, the state government of West Bengal announced a project to deploy electronic ticketing machines on the buses operated by the Calcutta State Transport Corporation. Also in the same month, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation introduced a virtual ticketing system for the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The new system allows people to buy virtual tickets using the e-commerce website Paytm and use the QR code for boarding.

-          In August 2016, Metro Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Limited invited bids for the design, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of AFC systems for the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro Rail Project Phase I. The last date for the submission of bids is November 30, 2016.

-          In the same month, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority revived its plan to develop an integrated ticketing system for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. A common mobility card (smart card) will be provided for all modes of transport in the city (metro, city bus, suburban trains, and monorail). The project will be executed with technical assistance from the World Bank. The plan was launched in 2013 but was put on hold when the Ministry of Urban Development proposed a similar plan for all modes of public transport in the country.

-          Chennai Metro Rail Limited announced plans in August 2016 to issue smartcards that can be used for fare payment on buses, parking and taxi services; automatic parking at multiple locations and small retail transactions. The eight bidders for the project include Nippon Signal Company (Japan), Skidata India, Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System, Building Control Solutions, Siepmann’s Card Systems, Samarth Softech, Secure Parking Solutions and Smart Parking India.

-          In August 2016, Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited invited bids for the implementation of the AFC system. The AFC scope may be extended to city buses and parking services managed by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. The last date for the submission of bids is October 13, 2016. The period of completion of work is 129 weeks.

-          In July 2016, the Naya Raipur Development Authority in the state of Chhattisgarh, announced plans to appoint a fare collection agency for the Naya Raipur BRT Project Phase I.

-          In June 2016, the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and Axis Bank announced plans to launch India’s first open loop-single wallet EMV contactless transit cards for bus fare payment and retail payments up to INR1.2 million. The cards can also be used at Rupay merchant terminals. The service will be rolled out in September 2016. The smartcards will be personalised and available at pass counters, traffic and transit management centres, and BangaloreOne centres. They will be recharged at BMTC issuing points, Axis Bank ATMs, online, and onboard buses.

-          In May 2016, the state government of Delhi announced plans to launch a 'Common Mobility Card' for travel in Delhi Metro, DTC buses and cluster buses. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is providing assistance to develop the revenue sharing model and the project is to be rolled out in phases throughout the city.


(1 INR [Indian Rupee] = 0.01 USD; MYR [Malaysian Ringgit] = 0.24 USD)