While the transport ministry has given a two-week extension to the roll-out of electronic toll collection — FASTags — across the national highways, tech companies and service providers are all set to switch to this mechanism.
Several tech companies said sales of FASTags have almost tripled in the last few days. Service providers have also bolstered their backend tech to tackle any sort of lag caused by surge in usage of these at toll booths.
Fintech giant Paytm claimed it is selling more FASTags than all the banks put together on a daily basis. As a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme, Paytm Payments Bank has tied up with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to enable easy passage of vehicles across NHAI toll plazas.“Paytm Payments Bank is also the acquiring bank for more than 110 toll plazas in India. We plan to acquire another 100 toll plazas in the coming year,” the company said.
Paytm FASTag is free for passenger vehicles, as tag issuance cost of Rs 100 has been waived off. Customers need to pay only Rs 400, where Rs 250 is security deposit and Rs 150 is the minimum balance to be maintained.
Online marketplaces, which are selling FASTags are seeing a brisk business. According to Amazon India, FASTag sales have gone up. “Customers are looking for convenience to get a FASTag and the current means include getting at a toll plaza or from partner bank branches or websites. Pre-November, FASTags have grown 30 times year-on-year. After the government announced December 1 as the initial deadline for FASTag compliance, demand has since grown by 2.5 times over the preceding month,” the e-commerce major said.
Logistics technology and online trucking platform BlackBuck said it has a 25 per cent market share in commercial e-tolling. The Bengaluru-based firm has offered to provide free FASTags to all truck owners.
They can order through BlackBuck’s BOSS App and have these delivered to their doorstep free of cost until December 31. The initiative is expected to help over 3 million trucks in India.
“At Blackbuck, we are already reaching over 50 per cent of the Indian trucking population on our platform and through initiatives like ‘FASTag at doorstep’ we look forward to supporting the government’s national electronic tolling agenda,” said Rajesh Yabaji, chief executive and co-founder of BlackBuck. BlackBuck manages over 300,000 trucks of around 60,000 fleet owners on its platform.
FASTag uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly, even when the vehicle is in motion. It is fixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables a customer to make toll payments directly from the account, which is linked to FASTag.
The NETC is a programme that was rolled out to enable electronic payments through FASTag at toll plazas. It is a joint effort between the NHAI, Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) and the National Payments Corporation of India.
NETC provides an interoperable nationwide toll payment solution, including clearing house services for settlement and dispute management. A customer will be able to pay tolls at any toll plaza through FASTag as a common payment method. The account will be directly linked to the customer’s bank account, and will enable near real-time electronic deduction of toll fees, cutting down on stoppages at toll plazas.
The FASTag is currently supported by over 20 banks and is active on more than 560 tolls across the country. It has a validity of five years. Recharge facility is available on an online portal and SMS alerts are sent when the balance is low.