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Beep card provider eyes expansion 

AJ Bajo

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AF Payments Inc. (AFPI), the company behind the tap-and-go beep card system is wrapping up a successful 2018 with plans to expand its network in and outside of Metro Manila.

President and chief executive officer of AFPI Peter Maher said they plan to further expand the use of the system outside of Metro Manila, in buses as well as car parks to create a stronger presence in the Philippine mass transportation system.

He said they are looking at projects in Bukidnon, Iloilo and Cebu and have talked with car park operators for the integration of the tap-to-pay system.

“Transportation has been and will continue to be our core strength. The government’s focus on developing the industry for the benefit of commuters nationwide encourages us to work harder to support Filipino commuters and transport operators.”

AFPI also introduced automated fare collection products for transport operators such as cash ticketing and collection, fixed fare, distance-based fare and transit passes.

The integration of the beep card system into modern public utility vehicles (PUV) and buses is one of AFPI’s expansion plans already set to motion during the year.

“The program for replacing 200,000 jeeps over three years is a very ambitious one, but a very good start. There’s a sort of acceptance for the program.There’s a lot of push back early on but there’s a growing acceptance of the need for the program for the millions of Filipinos who take on the transport system every day. There’s clearly progress being made,” Maher said.

The PUV modernization program was launched by the Department of Transportation in 2017 with the goal of creating an efficient and environment-friendly transportation system by 2020. It involves a target phase-out program and replacing PUV 15 years or older.

In 2018, AFPI was able to sell more than 5 million cards, hitting its 1 billionth transaction in the light rail network (LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT 3) in August since its start in 2015.

“Checking the numbers, LRT 2 and MRT 3, about 2 out of 3 Filipinos are now using beep card to take their journey. We see a steady pick-up. Overall, seven days a week about 60 percent of the people are using beep cards, I think it will grow by 1 or 2 percent each year,” Maher said.

By mid-2019, AFPI is planning to release a new version of the beep app with more functionalities and the addition of a “loyalty” component. This is to support its bid to also expand in retail partnership.

So far, beep cards are accepted at establishments such as Auntie Anne’s, Wendy’s, Binalot, Worship Generation and train station kiosks like Siomai House and Mr. Donut.

Beep-enabled ID cards were also introduced in St. Jude Catholic School, the first to allow its faculty, staff and Grades 6 to 12 students to purchase cash-free from merchants inside the campus and avail student discounts in PUVs accepting beep cards.

“We’re trying to focus on transportation but you will see us popping up in other sectors, too.”

Currently, beep cards can be used in point-to-point buses in key cities in the metro, PUV such as modern jeepneys and e-trikes deployed in Intramuros. The system has also been recently introduced in Mindanao via Husky Tours operating buses between General Santos and Cotabato.

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