ODYSSEY CARD: TAP THROUGH A SMART CITY
Innovation Type: Enterprise Venture
Bhubaneswar is a sprawling city of 1.16 million people. The city enjoys a rich culture and heritage, and its population ison the rise. Relatively small by most standards of urban cities, Bhubaneswar still suffers from administrative issues. Inpast years, the city faced difficulty managing payments for utilities, transportation and other city services due to aheavy reliance on cash and fragmentation of payment systems across various departments.
The Odyssey City Card provides a safe digital mode of economic transactions to residents of Bhubaneswar and reducesdependence on cash. Residents can use the card for digital payment of government fees and taxes, utility bills, transittickets, parking and other city services. The Odyssey City Card involves background integration of systems acrossvarious municipal departments, improving efficiency by providing a common mechanism for commercial and civicpayments across the city. The card can also be used for online transactions, to shop in retail stores with POS machines,and local authorities plan to integrate it into the Intelligent Transit System to be used for intra-city and inter-city bustravel. The success of the solution lies in providing access to cashless means of payment through simpler applicationprocesses and a one-stop-shop for all the residents’ payment needs.
The project was first envisioned by Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL), the city’s agency for implementing andmanaging city development initiatives. BSCL and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) then launched a multi-yearpartnership with ICICI Bank Ltd. to bring the project into existence. In October 2018, the Odyssey City Card waslaunched along with 25 information centres where individuals could register for a card and receive informationregarding its use. With the project’s launch, the goal was to have a total of 325 centres and POS machines benefitingover 1 million users.
The initiative’s launch benefitted over 1 million people living in Bhubaneswar, providing them with the option of a pre-paid integrated card to reduce cash transactions. The Odyssey City Card is part of Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited’sCommon Payment Card System Project, which aims to facilitate digital payment transactions through an open-loopgeneral-purpose card and a future mobile application and payment e-wallet.
- An enabling policy environment for a successful PPP mechanism. The municipal authorities of Bhubaneswar and ICICI Bankwere able to establish a multi-year public-private partnership, which was largely facilitated by the existence of both the requiredlegal framework and a local agency for city innovation – Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited. Such an environment was conduciveto innovation and trust between the core actors.
- Expanding the initiative according to local capabilities. Given the success of The Odyssey City Card, the city’s CommonPayment Card System is still under implementation, and officials are in the process of integrating the card into other platformsto increase its efficiency. The card itself, however, was a positive first step that benefitted the community without needing towait until all the platforms within the city’s project were ready.
- Going above and beyond with the tools available. The Odyssey City Card initiative combined existing physical infrastructurewith relatively simple hardware in the form of POS terminals. The initiative’s success lies in how information and partnershipswere leveraged to enable a digital payment solution for public and commercial purposes.
Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook: tinyurl.com/urban-innovations
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