What is Rapid Pass? All-in-One Smart Card Set to Revolutionize Payments in Bangladesh

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What is Rapid Pass? The days of fumbling through your wallet to find the right payment card are numbered in Bangladesh. A revolutionary new smart card called “Rapid Pass” is set to become the unified payment solution for tens of millions of people across the country.

What is Rapid Pass? All-in-One Smart Card Set to Revolutionize Payments in Bangladesh
What is Rapid Pass?

Overview of Rapid Pass

Rapid Pass is an all-in-one contactless smart card that can be used to pay for transportation, utility bills, tolls, government fees, supermarket purchases, university tuition and more. It works just like a prepaid card – you top up your Rapid Pass with money, then tap to deduct payments as you use various services.

Some key facts about Rapid Pass:

  • Launched originally in Dhaka in 2019 for the metro system
  • Over 66,000 users as of July 2022
  • Accepted on metro, BRT buses, regular buses, trains, ferries and more
  • Managed by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA)
  • Issued and refilled at Dutch Bangla Bank branches initially

The Bangladesh government has decided to expand Rapid Pass into a nationwide unified transportation and payments card. The goal is to reduce hassle, enable cashless transactions, increase transparency, and improve urban transport planning using origin-destination data.

What Can You Pay for with Rapid Pass?

Rapid Pass started as just a metro fare card for Dhaka residents. But it is now usable for payments across transport modes and various goods and services:

Transportation

  • Metro rail – already enabled
  • BRT buses – launching October 2022
  • BRTC buses – launching October 2022
  • Buses (public and private) – in discussion
  • Trains (Bangladesh Railway) – in discussion
  • Ferries (Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation)

Other Goods & Services

  • Road and bridge tolls – in discussion
  • Utility bills (electricity, gas etc) – in discussion
  • Government fees and services – in discussion
  • Supermarket purchases – in discussion
  • University tuition – in discussion

So in the near future, Rapid Pass aims to be a universal digital payment option usable at mass transportation, shops, toll booths and other locations nationwide.

What is Rapid Pass?

Category Information
Name Rapid Pass
Type Contactless smart card
Launched 2019 (Pilot), Rollout in 2022
Managed By Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA)
Use Cases Transportation, Utility Bills, Shopping, Tolls, Government Services
Partners Dutch Bangla Bank (Clearing), Bangladesh Railway, BIWTC
Technology Embedded microchip, Contactless NFC payments
User Base Over 66,000 as of July 2022
Obtain Card Dutch Bangla Bank branches
Top Up Methods Cash, Debit, Credit, Mobile Banking
Future Plans Nationwide rollout across transport and payments

How Does Rapid Pass Work?

Rapid Pass is based on contactless smart card technology. It has an embedded microchip that securely stores your account details and balance.

Here are the key steps to use Rapid Pass:

  1. Obtain a Card: Available from Dutch Bangla Bank branches currently. More banks to distribute cards soon.
  2. Load your Card: Top up your Rapid Pass by cash, debit card, credit card or mobile financial services.
  3. Tap to Pay: Touch your Rapid Pass against validators when entering & exiting transport or making payments.
  4. Automatic Deduction: System deducts the fare or bill amount automatically.

The main advantage is convenience and speed. No more fumbling for cash or queueing for tickets! Rapid Pass enables smooth automated payments within seconds.

And on buses, trains, ferries and metro, there are designated validators located at entry gates or turnstiles and exit gates. So tapping in and out provides data on precise journey details that can be used for transportation planning.

READ MORE – What is MRT Pass?

Breakdown of How Money Flows Through the Rapid Pass System

The Dhaka Transport Clearing House, managed by DTCA, is the nerve center that enables the integrated payments system across multiple operators.

Money Flow in Rapid Pass System

Here is how money moves through the Rapid Pass payment ecosystem:

  1. Customer tops up or refills their Rapid Pass Card via cash, mobile banking, debit or credit card.
  2. When paying for transport, shopping etc, the merchant has a Validator Device which detects the Rapid Pass, calculates fares owed and deducts balance.
  3. The Validator Device transmits the payment data to the Clearing House database.
  4. At settlement time each week, the Clearing House tallies total payments collected by each merchant operator and transfers the funds into their Bank Account.
  5. Clearing House gets a small fee for providing the settlement service.

So in short, Rapid Pass links together customers, merchants, clearing house and banks into one smooth digital payment flow for transportation, goods and services.

Rapid Pass Rollout Timeline

Rapid Pass is already active on Dhaka metro trains. And over 2022-2023, integration will expand to nation-wide transportation and payments.

Here is an overview of the rollout timeline:

  • 2019: Pilot launch on Dhaka Metro Line 6
  • 2022
    • July: 66,180 Rapid Pass users
    • October: Launch on BRT & BRTC buses
  • 2023
    • June: Project phase 2 completion
    • December: Integration with Uttara-Kamalapur metro line
  • 2024: Nationwide rollout across transport modes & payments system

Within 2 years, Rapid Pass aims to be a ubiquitous smart card that replaces cash for transportation and retail payments across Bangladesh.

What is Rapid Pass?
What is Rapid Pass? COURTESY: TBS

How to Obtain and Use Rapid Pass

As Rapid Pass expands across Bangladesh over 2022-2023, here is a quick guide to getting and using the smart card:

Obtaining Rapid Pass

Currently, Rapid Pass is issued at Dutch Bangla Bank branches. Soon it will be available at many other banks.

To get Rapid Pass:

  • Visit your nearest Dutch Bangla Bank branch
  • Provide your name and mobile number
  • Pay Tk 400 fee for the physical smart card

Eventually Rapid Pass cards may be issued digitally or via a mobile app as well. This would remove need for the physical card.

Using Rapid Pass

Using Rapid Pass to pay is very simple:

  1. Touch your card against payment validators
  2. Wait for beep
  3. See flashing light indicating payment success
  4. Keep card safe for next use

When paying bus or train fare, you need to tap both during entry and exit from the transport system. This enables fair deduction of fare for the exact trip distance travelled.

Technology Powering Rapid Pass

  • Uses near-field communication (NFC) technology for contactless payments
  • Embedded secure element chip stores account details safely
  • Leverages radio-frequency identification (RFID) for identification
  • Developed on Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) global standard

Customer Service

  • DTCA to operate dedicated call center for Rapid Pass queries
  • IVR-based interactive voice response system
  • Support for loss, theft, issues with payments, card damage etc
  • Online account management portal to check balance,statements

Rapid Pass Mobile App

  • Android and iOS apps to be launched
  • Ability to use virtual smart card within app to pay
  • QR code scan to top up pass at merchants instead of bank counters
  • View statements, transportation history and other details

Expansion to Other Services

  • Integration with Govt ID system (National Smart ID cards)
  • Private sector offers like discounts, loyalty programs
  • Bill payments like electricity, phone, education fees etc
  • Optional access to microloans, insurance and other financial services

Questions and Answers about Rapid Pass

Is Rapid Pass a credit card?

No, Rapid Pass acts more like a prepaid cash card. You must top it up with money before you can make payments.

Can I get Rapid Pass as a physical card or digital version?

For now, Dutch Bangla Bank issues Rapid Pass as physical smart cards. But mobile app versions may launch in future.

How do I add money to Rapid Pass?

You can top up your Rapid Pass at bank counters via cash, debit card, credit card, or mobile financial services.

Is my money safe if I lose my Rapid Pass?

You should immediately call the DTCA hotline to report loss and disable the card. Unused balance can be transferred to a replacement card.

Can tourists visiting Bangladesh obtain & use Rapid Pass too?

Yes, Rapid Pass aims to be the unified payment card for all forms of public transit and purchases across Bangladesh.

The Future is Cashless

Rapid Pass represents the inevitable shift towards cashless mobile payments, even in developing countries. It brings immense convenience for consumers while increasing oversight and planning ability for mass transit networks.

Within a few short years, tapping a smart card could replace the need for paper tickets or change to pay bus or train fares across all Bangladesh cities.

And that is just the beginning – seamlessly integrating payments from transportation to shops, bills and government services will improve quality of life.

Rapid Pass is the bold step into a flourishing digital payment economy and the smart cities of the future. Bangladesh is on the leading edge of this transition with its nationally unified contactless card system. The possibilities ahead are vast and exciting.

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