Dubai announces Nol system upgrade: Family tickets, facial recognition among new features

New system has innovative options like trip planning, booking; what you need to know

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Sahim Salim

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Published: Sun 28 Jan 2024, 11:58 AM

Last updated: Mon 29 Jan 2024, 7:26 AM

Dubai's card-based ticketing system, Nol, is set to undergo an upgrade to an account-based system that uses central wallet technology. The Dh350-million project will be rolled out in phases to be made available by the end of 2025, a top official told Khaleej Times.

The upgraded system will feature artificial intelligence technologies such as facial recognition.

Currently, the Nol system requires users to have a physical or digital card. The RTA has clarified that this will continue even when the new project is rolled out. An account can be created to link one or multiple cards. The system will provide a digital payment system that leverages a centralised transport fare wallet technology. A digital wallet is an online service used to make payments electronically or to store e-tickets or documents.

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“The new system has several innovative features, such as supporting trip planning, booking, and pre-payment through smart channels. It offers integrated packages encompassing a diverse array of services, coupled with the issuance of family and group tickets,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Salah Almarzooqi, director of Automated Collection Systems Department, told Khaleej Times that users can link multiple cards to their accounts. “Transactions can be done via this account. Users can add cards for their parents or children and shift balances between them.”

Facial recognition, key features

Almarzooqi explained that the system will use facial recognition for payments. Users can register their bio-data on the system.

The account offers information such as account balances, travel history, pricing, and fare calculations. It enables users to manage their accounts and handle issues related to lost cards, among other features.

“In terms of electronic security, the new system links all issued cards to individual customer accounts as well as to accounts belonging to companies and multi-user entities. This integration enhances the security of personal and customer data, ensuring privacy protection,” said Al Tayer.

According to the RTA, the system ensures a seamless integration across transit modes in Dubai. Advantages of the new system include extensive upgrading of the technology used in payment systems; improvements in operational aspects; and providing personalised services and products.

Mattar Al Tayer
Mattar Al Tayer

The digital payment system is set to provide better data utilisation and analysis based on details like the origins and destinations of trips.

Since its inception in 2009, the RTA has issued over 30 million Nol cards. In 2023, the daily card use average reached about 2.5 million payment transactions worth Dh2 billion.

Nol cards have facilitated the mobility of public transport riders and the payment of public parking fees across the emirate. In 2017, the card's functionalities were enhanced to encompass payment services in retail outlets and to cover entrance fees for various public and private establishments in Dubai.

Al Tayer said the upgrade is a "crucial step towards embracing the swift global advancements in digital payment solutions and fintech".

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