How to pay on Dubai Metro with your smartphone

‘Dubai Smart City’ is online and Metro users can now swipe their smartphone instead of a Nol card to use the Dubai Metro, as well as RTA buses and water buses.

Ayman Ahmed, Card Payment Specialist at the Unified Automated Fare collection Department demonstrated for Emirates 24|7, the 'smart swipe' at the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) stand at the recently-concluded Gitex.

The RTA stand had a Metro check-in demo gate set up.

"For now it is only the silver Nol card that can be used as smart Nol card, but in the future the gold card will also be included," explains Abdulla Ali Al Madani, CEO of the Corporate Technical Support Services Sector at RTA.

The smart Nol card is not limited to the Metro gates; it can also be used for payment in the bus, water bus, and soon, in Dubai Taxis as well.

Possibly, parking meters will become part of the scheme too, said Ayman.

For the smart payment solution the RTA has partnered with du and etisalat, which both offer customers the possibility to transfer to a Near Field Communication (NFC) SIM card.

Without the NFC SIM, the application will not work.

This is your check list to go mobile with your payments:

- Check if your phone is NFC enabled

- Not all smart phones are NFC enabled. Unfortunate for iPhone users, which does not provide the application built-in.

- These are some of the  smartphones models do include a built-in NFC application:

Blackberry 9900 bold

Blackberry 9790 bold

Blackberry 9360 curve

Blackberry 9380 curve

Galaxy S3

Galaxy Note2

- Get an NFC SIM

For existing customers, this means a SIM card transfer. All du and etisalat branches offer the NFC SIM. While etisalat charges Dh50, du sells the NFC SIM for Dh55.

New customers are charged depending on the payment method they opt for (for charges, see company deals).

- If the SIM is purchased within the promotional period, there are no additional charges to operate the NFC SIM. The promotional period runs until the end of December 2013 for etisalat customers, and until March 2014 for du customers.

- Etisalat starts charging the customer Dh5 per month after the first three months of purchase if within the promotional period, and du charges Dh1 after March 2014.

The application

When the SIM has been inserted, the customer must download the application.

The NFC SIM will come with Dh14 balance.

"There are several benefits to the smart Nol card," said Al Madani. "The balance will be shown on your smartphone screen, while you cannot see the balance on the physical Nol card."

The application also enables the customer to view the trips made, or calculate the fare of each trip made. Moreover, it can be charged like any other Nol card.

"It is a convenient payment method, points out Ayman. "Imagine you are talking on the phone while approaching the check-in gate.

“You would have to interrupt the conversation in order to search for your Nol card, which is now on your phone. All you need to do is excuse yourself for a second and swipe the phone; the conversation will not be interrupted."

NFC was introduced last year but it was not until the launch of the Smart Nol that the system was utilised in the UAE. Other services are expected to follow.

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