If the usability of FASTag is enhanced and expanded, it will become a cheaper, efficient and all-pervasive mode of payment. Currently, FASTag is used mainly on national highways. Integrating them with state and city highways will help create the importance of it for the common man.
It is a well-known and widely accepted datum that infrastructure is the backbone of a sound and growing economy. Amongst all infrastructure, the transport sector facilitates trade and migration, thereby raising productivity in other parts of the economy and directly contributing to the economic growth. The movement and connectivity of goods and people, facilitated by transport not only builds on the economic hub and spoke model of development but also helps in social integration and metamorphosis. According to a report by NITI Aayog, in freight carried by surface transport, the share of roads rose from 13.8 per cent in 1950-51 to 38.1 per cent in 1990-91 and 64.5 per cent in 2011-12. The trend was similar in passengers carried by surface transport with the share of roads rising from 25.7 per cent in 1950-51 to 72.2 per cent in 1990-91 and 85.9 per cent in 2011-12. The share of railways in 2011-12 stood at 35.5 per cent in freight and 14.1 per cent in passenger traffic.
With this increasing burden on road transport, we have also witnessed increasing fatalities on the same. According to the report in 2015, around 146,133 deaths occurred due to road traffic crashes. About 65 per cent of the people killed in road accidents belong to the age group of 18-35, which is the most productive working group. No wonder that over 3 per cent of India's GDP is lost to road accidents annually, amounting to Rs. 3.8 trillion in 2014.
Hence, the development of national and state highway infrastructure, especially two-lane highways has been the key focus of the government, leading to the increase in the pace of road construction. The average road length of 26.93 km constructed per day in fiscal 2017-18 is more than double, compared to FY 2013-14. Over 44,000 villages have been connected with the road network between 2014-2018 and 20 states have so far been hosted on the Geospatial Rural Road Information System (GRRIS).
Further, conforming to its Digital India initiative, the Prime Minister also called for a faster progress in electronic toll collection to ensure seamless movement of traffic. This is not only important in terms of time efficiency and industry productivity but also to digitise one of the most vibrant and growing segments of the economy. The benefits of digitisation of the toll collection process are not only limited to the cost of carrying cash issues but also enables tracking, data maintenance, penalising defaulters through integrated mechanisms, etc.
The Minister for Road Transport and Highways has already mandated readymade FASTag for all new vehicles. The FASTag programme is a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) initiative which has been rolled out by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which manages the transaction switch, under the guidelines of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Indian Highways Management Company (IHMCL).
A FASTag is an RFID-based (Radio Frequency Identification) sticker that is affixed on a vehicle's windshield. Each vehicle gets a unique ID and when it passes through a dedicated FASTag lane, the toll amount automatically gets deducted, either from a user's prepaid digital wallet account or from the user's bank account.
There are 479 toll plazas operational on national highways (NHs) across the country. Today, FASTag lanes are operational at 409. More than 2.6 million RFID tags have been issued so far and over 22 per cent of toll revenue now comes from electronic toll collection.
The Government of India aims at increasing toll collections through FASTag to at least 50 per cent of the total toll being collected at national highways. To ensure that this target is achieved, the government has made FASTags mandatory for:
Apart from this, the NHAI is planning to tie up with oil manufacturing companies for selling of the FASTags through the petrol station.
In a move to encourage digital payments and the use of FASTags, the government is providing a cashback of 5 per cent to the FASTag users on every transaction done at a national highway toll plaza. The CASA services provided to commercial vehicles on FASTag through 1Move enables large payments, unlike wallet services which have deposit restrictions. Above all, the transporter also gets around Rs 0.26 million in cash back on a monthly basis through 5 per cent cash back on FASTags scheme.
Hence, it has been observed that while adaptability of FASTag has been high amongst the commercial vehicle segment, it still has to find acceptability amongst passenger vehicles. Many passenger vehicle users are not even aware of such cash backs (since it makes for an insignificant sum). However, this sum would be noteworthy the moment FASTags are operationalised on state and city highways. Some of the key benefits for users are:
Apart from the above, if the usability of FASTag is enhanced and expanded, it will become a cheaper, efficient and all-pervasive mode of payment. Currently, FASTag is used mainly on national highways. Integrating them with state and city highways will help create the importance of it for the common man. It has the capability to become a vehicle's UID (Unique Identification), just like what an Aadhaar Card is for an individual. It has the capabilities of being connected to parking, wherein the parking charges in places like shopping malls, government parking areas, etc. can be deducted through a FASTag. Similarly, it can also be used for the payment of any traffic penalties, where the traffic cop can deduct the penalty amount from the FASTag affixed on the vehicle. Payment for refuelling of a vehicle is another place where a FASTag can be used as a cashless payment instrument at fuel pumps. Going forward, a FASTag can even hold various vehicle-related data details of the vehicle's insurance policy, vehicle registration certificate, PUC (Pollution Under Control) certificate and even details on any loan taken for the vehicle.
For the complete article log on to www.infrastructuretoday.co.in Authored by Abhijeet Sehgal, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, 1Pay.