After inserting your NFC-enabled SIM, tap your smartphone at the Nol gates at Metro stations or ticket readers on buses. Image Credit: Courtesy: RTA

Dubai: The special NFC (Near Field Communication)-enabled SIM cards that are required to make public transport payments though mobile phones are now available to the public.

The NFC payment system, available on a range of smartphones, is already live and those who already have acquired the NFC SIM cards from service providers etisalat and Du can use the facility right away, according to a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official.

“The system is already live. Once the new SIM card is acquired and placed in the mobile, and the account is topped up, the mobile will work just like a Nol card and can be used to make payments on Metro, buses and water bus,” said Mohammad Yousuf Al Mudharreb, Director of Operations at RTA’s Rail Agency.

The NFC Nol accounts can be topped up either through the ticket counters at Dubai Metro or bus stations. The top-up can also be done online at www.nol.ae through the unique number that will appear on mobile screens once the NFC SIM is placed in the smartphone.

The unique number can be used to check Nol balances and make auto top-ups as well.

Though the service is commendable, commuters are unhappy about the added cost of replacing and operating the SIM. Etisalat charges Dh25 for SIM replacement, with an additional cost of Dh50 for activation and a Dh5 monthly rental.

The other telecom operator Du charges a flat rate of Dh55 for SIM replacement.

“It is a good facility but it shouldn’t come at such a cost and it’s not worth the hassle of going to the operators and getting the SIM replaced, especially when the Nol card does the same job for you,” Ramzan Hasan, a regular commuter, said.

“The SIM replacement fee is understandable but I think the rentals will deter people from having the application. I wouldn’t have it for sure as it doesn’t give me anything extra from what a Nol card gives me,” Sarah Martinez, another regular commuter, said.

The SIM can be replaced at any etisalat or Du business centre across Dubai

Though NFC is available on most major smartphones, it is not available on iPhones. The mobile operators have a full list of compatible handsets.

Telecom operators were not immediately available for comments.

NFC is a set of standards for smartphones to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity.