Nol card users, your face will soon become the key to unlocking public transport and other services around Dubai. The RTA has issued a massive AED 350 million contract to upgrade nol cards which will see the card-based ticketing system adopt facial recognition technology, new digital payment options and Artificial Intelligence-driven updates.
What will this upgrade include?
Existing Nol cards will move to a more streamlined central wallet technology (Account Based Ticketing System) as part of this project. This new Nol card system will also include nifty upgrades that support trip planning, booking, and pre-payment through smart channels. Users will be able to easily book family and group tickets.
Here’s where the facial recognition technology will most likely come into play – the new system plans on incorporating payment through smart devices and leveraging artificial intelligence technologies, such as facial recognition. This implies that facial recognition technology could be used to authenticate Nol card payments.
With this new system, users can expect a one-stop platform where they can manage their accounts, address issues related to lost cards and plenty of other features such as access to information like account balances, travel history, ticket pricing, and fare calculations. Moreover, the RTA has also confirmed that the new system will provide better data and privacy protection by conveniently linking all cards issued to individual customer accounts and to accounts belonging to companies and multi-user entities.
Why are nol Cards getting an upgrade?
This nol card system revamp is part of RTA’s Digital Strategy Roadmap 2023-2030. As part of this strategy, the RTA is transitioning to a digital-first framework that uses the latest fintech features and systems.
His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, said that upgrading the Nol card system is “a crucial step towards embracing the swift global advancements in digital payment solutions and fintech, which perfectly aligns with the government’s Cashless Dubai initiative.”
A timeline for when exactly this update will come into effect hasn’t been mentioned. But we’ll let you in on details the minute there’s an official update.
What is a Nol Card?
The nol card is Dubai’s version of the Oyster Card in London or New York’s MetroCard. It is a smart card that lets you pay for a variety of RTA transport in Dubai with a single tap; it covers travel on the Dubai Metro, Buses, Dubai Tram and marine transport like Water Buses and ferries. Additionally, the nol card is also handy for paying for paid RTA parking and even a bunch of local supermarkets retail outlets and restaurants! Find full list here.
These smart travel cards are widely used by both Dubai residents and visitors thanks to their versatility and ease of use. Over 30 million nol cards have been issued since they were first introduced in 2009. You can purchase a nol card at ticketing offices of RTA transports, ticket vending machines placed at Metro and Bus stations, and authorised sales agents. For the tech-savvy, there’s a virtual nol card option that you can easily download via the nol Pay app available on iOS and Google Playstore.