Snowball Technology and RTA Bring Mobile Ticketing to Dubai’s Ultra-modern Public Transportation System
Posted by Shannon Amy Murphy
December 28, 2021. Dubai
The nol Card just got better
In 2009, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority introduced the nol Card, a contactless smartcard that can carry prepaid funds to pay for bus and train fares, using DESFire card technology. (“Nol” means “fare” in Arabic.)
And now, from December 28, 2020 onward, passengers in Dubai can use their Huawei smart devices to download virtual nol Cards. These virtual cards function in the same way as traditional cards, except that, well, everything is digital.
After downloading a nol Card, passengers can load funds and choose a product, without the need to buy and carry a plastic card. Virtual nol cards allow commuters to access the city’s metro, bus and water bus using NFC and eSE technologies.
Once funds are loaded and a passenger is ready to ride, all that is required is a tap of a Huawei device at NFC gate readers, for quick access to public transport. It’s as easy as that.
Currently, there are several types of nol products available: a 7-day pass, the nol Silver card and the nol Gold card. The 7-day pass grants unlimited access to public transport for seven days. The Silver and Gold cards grant access to public transport as well as Dubai public parks, Etihad Museum and over 2,000 shops in Dubai. The Gold option gives passengers the extra privilege of riding the Gold class cabin on trains and trams, among other benefits.
Virtual nol cards allow commuters to access the city’s metro, bus and water bus using NFC and eSE technologies.
A Collaboration between Snowball Technology and Dubai’s RTA
This launch has been made possible by a close collaboration between the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai and Snowball Technology, Ltd.
The RTA is segmented into five agencies: Public Transport, Traffic and Roads, Rail, Licensing and Dubai Taxi. RTA operates the Dubai Metro, which is a state-of-the-art, automated and driverless metro system. It’s divided into a Red line and a Green line and serves 650,000 passengers a day. The RTA also operates an extensive bus service with more than 100 routes.
Snowball Technology’s core business, meanwhile, is to help public transit agencies take their existing plastic smartcards and business logic and transform them into a better digital version. Snowball worked with RTA to launch mobile ticketing for transit in Dubai through the use of Snowball’s virtualisation platform, OnBoard™.
“Collaborating with RTA to virtualise the nol Card has been a wonderful learning experience, a privilege and a big step for Snowball,” says Snowball Technology CEO Ciaran Fisher. “I am proud of what our team has achieved so far and happy to see our first DESFire project in the Middle East now come to fruition.”
While the virtual nol Card is Snowball Technology’s first project in the Middle East, the company has already helped over 100 major cities provide mobile ticketing to mass transit riders. Dubai RTA marks Snowball’s 50th live Public Transit Agency.
Snowball’s President, Bob Jiang is looking forward to the next destinations to be served by the OnBoard™ platform. “We are excited about the prospect of assisting other Public Transit Agencies around the world with mobile ticketing for their customers,” says Jiang.
“We are excited about the prospect of assisting other Public Transit Agencies around the world with mobile ticketing for their customers.”
A Milestone for RTA
The Nol Pay launch is expected to accelerate and help drive the Nol payment platform both within and beyond transit. Nol Pay will allow users to make purchases at select shops and pharmacies, gain access to museums and even pay for gas at certain gas stations.
This seamless customer journey brings passengers not only convenience but also increased peace of mind as they make contactless payments in post-Covid Dubai.
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