The QR code metro ticketing system in Bengaluru, India’s IT center, is gaining popularity, with monthly usage reaching 25 lakh for the first time. This accomplishment came within a year of the service’s first launch.

Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) data indicate a constant growth in QR code users (see figure below), increasing from 2.13 lakh at its inception in November 2022 to 5 lakh in January 2023, 10 lakh in June 2023 and 25.9 lakh in December 2023.

BMRCL’s QR code ticketing system enables customers to purchase single-trip tickets via WhatsApp, the Namma Metro smartphone app, Paytm, and Amazon, among other platforms.

According to WhatsApp, a platform owned by Meta, this is the first QR ticketing service available on its app. Bhagya, a WhatsApp chatbot (+91 8105556677) accessible in English and Kannada, helps users recharge their smart cards and gives information on transit schedules and price tables, among other things.

While Namma Metro has a daily traffic of around 7 lakh, the bulk of passengers continue to utilize closed-loop smart cards launched by BMRCL in 2011. According to the latest BMRCL data, smart cards are used by 52% of daily passengers, followed by tokens (34%), and QR codes (15%).

The majority of users (71.6 percent) recharge their smart cards at station ticket counters, followed by the Namma Metro app (13.28 percent), Paytm (8 percent), WhatsApp (3.25 percent), Amazon (2.23 percent), and the BMRCL website (1.6 percent).

In a previous assessment of riding trends, 60 percent utilized smart cards, and the other 40 percent used tokens. This shows a huge transition from smart cards to QR codes.

AS Shankar, executive director of BMRCL (operations and maintenance), told Moneycontrol that “BMRCL was the first transit service globally to launch the QR ticketing service on WhatsApp.” Other metro agencies have since adopted it. We hope that with sufficient awareness, the number of QR code users in Bengaluru will rise. We want to achieve 100% contactless transit for metro customers by deterring them from waiting in line at counters.

Ranjitha S, an IT worker and frequent metro passenger, praised QR-code tickets. “QR codes are incredibly helpful since I often miss my metro smart card, resulting in the loss of non-refundable deposits. Now, my phone is my ticket, and I merely have to pay the fee without keeping a minimum balance,” she said. She also said that smartphone QR tickets may be bought in advance, removing the need to wait in line at ticket booths for token purchases.

QR tickets may be purchased via the BMRCL app/WhatsApp or other digital payment applications by inputting the entrance and destination stations on the day of travel. They must be shown to the readers of automated fare-collecting gates at stations. If a traveler does not make the voyage on the same day, they may cancel the ticket and get a refund.

In November 2023, BMRCL offered QR group tickets for up to six people. BMRCL also provides a 5% reduction on fares for passengers who use smart cards or QR-based tickets rather than tokens.

Bengaluru has always been a leader in digital adoption. According to a poll conducted by Worldline, a French payment and transactional services organization, Bengaluru led the list of Indian cities in terms of digital transactions in 2022, with 29 million transactions totaling Rs 6,500 crore. It was followed by Delhi, which had 19.6 million transactions worth Rs 5,000 crore, and Mumbai, with 18.7 million transactions for Rs 4,950 crore. Pune has 15 million digital transactions worth Rs 3,280 crore, while Chennai ranks fifth with 14.3 million transactions for Rs 3,550 crore.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru’s National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), also known as ‘One Nation, One Card’ and inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25, 2023, has gotten a lukewarm reception so far. BMRCL, in partnership with RBL Bank, has begun providing the cards to metro passengers from March 2023. Users may need to wait a bit longer to utilize NCMC on Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses.

Shankar said that they issue an average of 200 NCMC cards every day. “However, integration with BMTC buses is still pending, and once completed, the number will also increase,” he said.