Smart NOL technology set to transform Dubai transport system

Dubai's Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has paired up with telecommunications provider Etisalat & du to launch 'Smart NOL', a service which allows commuters to pay for travel directly via a special SIM, using their NFC-enabled smart-phones.

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has paired up with telecommunications provider Etisalat & du to launch ‘Smart NOL’, a service which allows commuters to pay for travel directly via a special SIM, using their NFC-enabled smart-phones.

The service is already underway; with SIM cards available at Etisalat and du business centres 29 September.

Commuters with NFC-enabled devices need only scan them against existing card readers and validating devices to pay for daily trips via certified NFC-enabled devices.

The new technology has been heralded as having the potential to transform commuting for Dubai’s NOL users, who currently number over six million.

Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer at du claimed "This ground-breaking new payment system will make travelling across Dubai even more easy and convenient than ever before".

The transition from ‘smart’ NOL cards to ‘smarter’ NFC-NOL technology may not be as seamless as hoped.

Despite CEO of RTA, Abdulla Ali Al Madani’s assurances that "Customers will have similar experience to [previous] NOL cards and there is no major change in using it", some commuters have reportedly complained about confusion in the technology’s implementation, as well as unexpected hassle and costs encountered in activating the service.

Questions have been raised over the growth potential of the service considering Apple’s continued boycott of NFC technology in its popular iPhone range.

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