Starting December 15, all National Highways in India will collect toll payments through technology called FASTag. The system based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology was initially established as a pilot project back in 2014. However, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in March this year made it mandatory for toll lanes in the country to have electronic toll collection (ETC) infrastructure to start supporting FASTag-equipped vehicles. The government has also partnered with 23 banks to offer FASTag issuance. But how can you get FASTag for your vehicle? And in what ways it could be useful for you? We here provide you with all the relevant details.
What is FASTag, and how does it work?
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has developed the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme to fulfil the electronic tolling requirements in India. The programme has FASTag as its backbone as the RFID-powered technology is designed to enable toll payments while the vehicle is in motion, directly debiting the linked prepaid or savings account. A FASTag RFID tag is required to be affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle to initiate payments once the driver passes through a NETC-supported toll plaza.
"FASTag offers the convenience of cashless payment along with benefits like - savings on fuel and time as the customer does not has to stop at the toll plaza," NPCI notes on its website.
A FASTag is based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology
At present, there are over 450 toll plazas across India supporting the FASTag technology. Once a vehicle with a FASTag affixed on the windscreen drives through a toll plaza, the toll payment directly gets deducted from the driver's linked account. The government has provided the option to integrate existing saving or current bank accounts with FASTag to enable seamless payments on toll plazas. Alternatively, users can pick a prepaid pass on a monthly basis. Also from December 15, those users who ply through a a FASTag-only lane without a FASTag on their vehicles will be charged double the applicable fee in cash.
Notably, each FASTag is non-transferable and is designed to be used only for one vehicle. The system also notifies drivers for developments such as toll transactions and low balance.
At an event last month, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari that the FASTag is being positioned as the 'Aadhaar' for vehicles in the country. The minister also said that the existing architecture already supports over six million tags with approximately daily 10 lakh transactions.
How to get FASTag for your vehicle
Since the government is making FASTag mandatory from December 15, new vehicles by all the major automobile companies would by default support the latest technology. However, if you're looking for a FASTag for your existing vehicle, you can purchase it from banks such as State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank among others. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) back in May also partnered with Amazon to offer FASTags online in the country.
According to a dedicated page on the OnlineSBI website, the issuance of the reusable FASTag RFID tag is available at charge of Rs. 100 for all vehicle categories. SBI is also charging a refundable security amount between Rs. 200-400 that vehicle owners need to pay for getting a FASTag.
How to link FASTag to your bank account, recharge
Once a FASTag is purchased, you can link it to your existing bank account using My FASTag app on an Android device. You need to enter your vehicle registration number to enable the new experience. The My FASTag app also lets users recharge their RFID tag using UPI payment.
Paytm is also offering an integrated experience to purchase a new FASTag by providing details such as vehicle registration number and uploading the copy of your vehicle's registration certificate (RC).
After you'll get the FASTag and affix it on your vehicle, you can pass any of the supported toll plaza and make cashless toll payments. The government is also providing a cashback of 2.5 percent for the current financial year for eligible FASTag customers.
How FASTag payments work
The ETC infrastructure at the toll plazas supporting FASTag captures details such as Tag ID, vehicle class, registration number, and owner name and send it to the acquiring bank for processing. The acquiring bank then sends a request to the NETC Mapper to validate the tag details.
After successfully validating the captured details, the acquirer communicating with the toll plaza system calculates the appropriate toll fare and then initiates a debit request to NETC system.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the extended FASTag deadline.