YANGON — Nearly a month behind schedule, an ad hoc assessment board convened by the Yangon Region government has named Excel KC Myanmar the winner of a contract to implement a cashless payment system for the city’s public bus commuters.
The regional government solicited bids in late August for the card payment platform, the Yangon Payment Service (YPS). A total of 14 companies tendered bids and three of them — AnyPay Payment Services, Asia Stamar Transport Intelligent, and Excel KC Myanmar — were selected as finalists earlier this month. The board named Excel KC Myanmar the winner on Wednesday.
The 10-member board was formed to select the winning bid. It was chaired by the regional government’s planning and finance minister, U Myint Thaung, and co-chaired by its electricity, industry and transportation minister, Daw Nilar Kyaw, and Karen Ethnic Affairs Minister Naw Pan Thinzar Myo.
U Chit Tun Pe, a board member and the principal of the advisory firm Tun Group Asia, told The Irrawaddy that choosing among the finalists proved difficult because all three had shown that the solutions they were proposing have worked in other countries. He said they finally went with Excel KC Myanmar, a partnership between Excel Myanmar and Taiwan’s Acer Inc., because the latter could provide its own technology and machines.
He said Excel will invest 20 billion kyats ($14.78 million) to implement the automated fare collection system under the management of the Yangon Region Transport Authority.
Though U Chit Tun Pe had told The Irrawaddy earlier that the board would select two companies in order to spur competition between the service providers, it settled on only one in the end. The same firm will be the investor, technology provider and operator all at once, making the project easer for the government to manage.
As important as it will be to roll out the payment service quickly, it also need to be accurate, considering that the Yangon Bus System serves 3 to 5 million commuters a day, U Chit Tun Pe said, explaining why the decision was a month late.
“We will also need to give time to the commuters too, since there is no such card payment practice in [the culture of] our country,” he added.
U Chit Tun Pe said he expected a tentative agreement between the regional government and the firm to be sign later this month.
The website of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) says Excel KC Myanmar was registered in June, two months before the government asked for bids.
According to its profile on DICA’s website, the company’s two directors are a Myanmar citizen, Daw Aye Aye Win, and a foreign citizen, Lin Chih Ying. Its managing director, U Zaw Win, holds the same position at the Excel Myanmar Group, which provides security services.
U Zaw Win told The Irrawaddy that the project will see the country’s commuting system “improved” because Acer makes its own electronics and ICT products rather than turn around the work of others.
However, he said he did not know when the company and government would sign the contract or when the trial period would begin, as Excel KC Myanmar needed to hold more negotiations with the government and the bus operators.
Ko Htet Oo Maung, technical officer for Excel KC Myanmar, told The Irrawaddy that the company would face many challenges because the payment system will be new to commuters, bus operators and drivers.
“We are thinking of spending two to four months on trials before the operation starts,” he said.
It has been nearly a year since the regional government launched the Yangon Bus Service, replacing its predecessor in an effort to reform the sprawling city’s mass transit system.
The new system cut the number of bus lines from some 300 to less than 100 to avoid overlapping routes and replaced bus conductors with fare boxes. Since the boxes were introduced, however, commuters have had trouble paying exact bus fares, a problem the new card payment system is expected to solve.