The Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that FASTags will become mandatory for all vehicles from December this year. This means that any vehicle, private or commercial, which has the FASTag will be able to swiftly make contactless payments at toll plazas on national highways and be on their way.
FASTags are part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). According to the the NPCI numbers shared with the media, as many as 9.67 lakh transactions were processed daily through FASTags across all toll plazas on national highways in India in the month of September, which is a total of 34% of all transactions done by vehicles commuting on the national highways.
What exactly is a FASTag and how does it work?
A FASTag is essentially a tag that you attach to the windshield of your car, from the inside. This is Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) enabled and is linked with the registration details of your vehicle. As you drive though any toll plaza, there will be dedicated lanes that have FASTag readers installed overhead as your vehicle passes beneath them, the RFID code is detected, the necessary amount deducted from the prepaid balance and your journey through the toll plaza is authenticated. All without you having to stop, interact with a human being at a toll plaza or having to pay cash. FASTags would enable all vehicles pay toll fee digitally, while providing convenience of faster movement across toll plazas. This in turn would help in significantly eliminate long queues at toll plazas with consequent saving in fuel and time. FASTags would also enable toll payments across State and district highways and even for parking in cities in the near future. This would help commuters in seamless movement across city parking to State to national highways, says Ravi Mathur, CEO of GS1 India.
Each tag and car pairing works with the GS1 unique identification numbers, which are encoded in the FASTags. That way, each vehicle is identified in a standardized and common manner that is understood by the digital payments systems deployed by state and central governments, the Traffic Police, insurance companies and toll collection authorities. If the same method is also activated for payment for parking as well as for paying for fuel fill-ups, the same standards will be followed by the municipalities and private operators as well.
How do you get these FASTags to work for you?
The first step is to buy a FASTag for your car. You can either physically buy one at certain toll plazas across India, by carrying your identification as well as the vehicle registration documents with you. This is a mandatory KYC process. The banks that currently offer FASTags include HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Axis Bank as well as the Airtel Payments Bank and Paytm Payments Bank. The advantage of buying the FASTag from the bank where you have your savings or salary account is that they can pre-link it with your bank account for easy recharge later.
You can log in to the payment system of the bank which has issued the FASTag and make the recharge from your bank account. Or if you bought it from Paytm, you recharge your linked Paytm account and the balance shall be deducted from that every time you pass through a toll plaza on a national highway. You can also download the My FASTag app (free for Android on the Google Play Store, still not available for Apple iPhone) and recharge your FASTag via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) there.