FASTag driving small-town truckers to adopt online banking: BlackBuck

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2020

Using FASTags, truck owners get to know the location of a truck as several banks have started providing dashboards to owners   -  Thulasi Kakkat

The biggest challenge in e-tolling is access: trucking platform BlackBuck

Use of FASTags is driving a behavioural change in small-town truckers and truck owners, who are now warming up to online banking, according to BlackBuck, a truck aggregator for long-distance cargo movement.

BlackBuck’s BOSS app, aimed at providing multiple services to truck owners including e-tolling through FASTags, has seen over a million downloads till date.

A large chunk of these downloads picked up from July 2019 onwards, following the Centre’s announcement to reserve all but one lane of toll booths on National Highways for vehicles whose toll charges are paid electronically, from December 2019.

FASTags are prepaid rechargeable tags for toll collection that allow automatic payment deduction at toll booths. “Majority of our users started using internet banking for the first time after they came onboard BlackBuck app,” Rajesh Yabaji, co-founder and CEO, BlackBuck, told BusinessLine, adding that a large number of the FASTag users on the platform are truck drivers or owners from tier III or IV cities.

Rise in FASTag buy

Use of BlackBuck app for buying FASTag and making payments soared September 2019 onwards and was close to doubling every week in November and December, Yabaji claimed, adding that in January 2020, the company expects to sell one lakh tags.

This echoed another source from the sector, “Usually, it is the truck owners (who may/may not be drivers) who top up the toll money. Earlier, usually the owner used to give certain amount of cash to the driver for his trip expense. Now, with FASTags, the owners are using online banking. The owners also get to know the location of a truck (which toll plaza a truck driver has crossed) as several banks have started providing dashboards for owners.”

While there are over 20 banks that issue FASTags, ICICI Bank and Paytm Bank are the top players.

BlackBuck had tied up with IDFC First Bank a few years earlier to enable its truckers to pay toll charges electronically. From the million downloads, five lakh trucks use BlackBuck’s app to make toll payments, while the remaining use other methods including other banks or cash.

The biggest challenge in driving e-tolling to trucks is access — most of the truckers are from tier II, IV towns. Some 30 per cent of electronic toll payments made by trucks on national highways are through Blackbuck’s BOSS app, Yabaji claimed.

Seven out of 10 FASTags issued through BOSS are active, meaning they are used for making toll payments, said Yabaji, adding that this is because BlackBuck designs its apps specifically for truck owners and drivers.

Trucks pay more

Trucks pay more toll charges than cars. According to BlackBuck, on an average, every month, small trucks that use national highways spend ₹4,000-5,000 as toll and big trucks ₹15,000-20,000. The charges for public-funded roads are ₹2.5-3 per kilometre, while that for private roads are ₹6-7 per kilometre. Based on different national highway stretches, 10-20 per cent of a truck’s operating charges is tolling.

According to data from the National Highways Authority of India, till mid-December in 2019, 57.3 lakh FASTags were issued, of which over 31 lakh were issued in November and half of December.

Published on January 22, 2020

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