Transit mobile payments coming to Dubai later this year

Large scale NFC implementation

After the launch of Nol cards that brought about large scale adoption of NFC-based payments in Dubai since 2009, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is surging ahead with plans to introduce the cards on mobiles. Nol cards are tap-and-go cards used initially on the Dubai metro to pay for travel, and later extended to public buses, taxis and water buses. With the new solution – currently under pilot – commuters will be able to tap their mobile phone on the Nol card reader to pay their travel fare on the Dubai metro and public buses.

This solution will however require a Nol card application to be installed on the SIM card, for which RTA is working closely with UAE’s leading telecom providers. A senior official with the RTA has confirmed the availability of this service by the third quarter this year. Official sources estimate 5.3 million Nol cards have been sold since its launch and 22 million transactions are processed each month.

Mobile payments are yet to take off in Dubai, the most advanced market in the GCC in terms of technology adoption. The RTA has been a pioneer in mobile payments, launching the mParking service in 2009. The service allowed drivers to pay and renew their parking tickets visa SMS, immediately eliminating the pain of having to search for coins, or run back to their vehicles close to the expiry time.

Once launched, the mobile version of the Nol card will be the first large scale implementation of mobile NFC payments in the UAE. Users having experienced transit payments on mobile are expected to be more open to the idea of mobile payments at retail outlets as well.


By Harish Narayanan 

About the author –  Todays guest writer is a Payments industry professional based out of Dubai. He has over 7 years of experience in various roles within the Cards & Payments business in the Banking industry and works at one of the largest banks in the Middle East.

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