DOTr taps Landbank for cashless, contactless fare collection

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 06:55 PM

Commuters queue to take a ride at the EDSA busway-Quezon Avenue Station in Quezon City on October 06, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Monday it is tapping the Land Bank of the Philippines to develop a national standard for an Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS) for all modes of public transport in the country.

DOTr said it will begin pilot testing the contactless EMVCo-compliant card with Landbank and Mastercard for the next 15 months.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said he hopes to have the system up and running by mid-next year.

"Kung ako ay masusunod, gusto ko sa lalong madaling panahon, before the end of the year. But let as inject some reality to this situation. Merong matatapos before the end of the year, sana by mid next year interoperable na ito," he said.

(If I'd have it my way, I want this done as soon as possible. But let us inject some reality into this situation. Something will be finished before the end of the year. Hopefully, by the middle of next year, this is interoperable.)

Landbank Vice President Randy Montesa said, the EMVCo- compliant card can be used to pay for fares in trains, buses, and modern public utility jeepneys.

Banks have been required by the Bangko Sentral to abandon magnetic-stripe cards and switch to the more secure EMV-equipped ATM and credit cards since June 2018. 

EMVCo is a global body that sets the standards that allow EMV cards to operate across different payment systems. 

Montesa said the EMVCo-compliant card can also be used in both physical and online retail stores as well as for cash withdrawals from ATMs, fund transfers, and bills payments.

He added, the pilot testing they'll conduct for the next few months will set the standards for other payment methods like QR codes on smartphones and wearable devices such as smartwatches.

Rowell Del Fierro, Mastercard Country Manager for the Philippines said, they're already seeing a wide user base for the new payment system.

"The expectation is that all holders of Mastercard and holders of EMV-based cards with contactless technology should be able to benefit from this program," Del Fierro said. 

He added that anyone who uses EMV debit, credit or prepaid cards should be able to participate in the program.

Tugade meanwhile assured the public that the cards won't have an additional cost for commuters.

Meanwhile, testing the new payment system would complement the current Beep card cashless payment system used in trains and some buses.

While the whole process is seen running for 15 months, DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said, the actual pilot testing would start by February and last for six to nine months.

"The main focus will be the processing and acceptance of Mastercard EMVco-compliant contactless card payment instruments which will be followed by the issuance of processing of special edition Mastercard EMVco-compliant contactless transit card," Pastor said.

He said they intend to hold dialogues with transport operators as the agency expects "birth pains" in promoting and encouraging the use of new payment system.