Beep cards now sold online but costlier

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — Commuters can now buy beep cards from online stores but operator AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) noted it will be more expensive.

The stored value cards cost ₱188 in AFPI's official online stores in Lazada, Shopee, and Facebook Marketplace, excluding shipping fees. The card's price is ₱100 if bought from a rail station.

Station-bought cards will have an initial load balance of ₱70. However, AFPI did not mention if this will also be the case for cards purchased online.

"It must be noted that beep™ cards sold at rail stations are priced lower as they are subsidized by AFPI and the Philippine government under a signed concession agreement in 2016," the company said in a statement Monday.

"Commuters are therefore advised that since online stores and other non-rail sectors are not covered by the agreement, prices differ," it added.

AFPI said passengers may purchase the cards with discount vouchers applicable in e-commerce platforms until supplies last.

In a separate interview with CNN Philippines, AFPI shot down claims that it has been profiteering from the higher sales in other platforms.

"The reason why the prices are different outside of rail is that it's no longer covered by the concession agreement, which means that we are allowed to recover our costs," the company's president and CEO JJ Moreno told Traffic Center on Thursday. "We really do not profit, we just pass on the costs."

The Department of Transportation in August confirmed the shortage of beep cards, citing limited global supply of microchips needed for production, among others, and that the shortage may last until the first quarter of 2023.

WATCH: DOTr: Beep card shortage may last until Q1 of 2023

To tackle the issue, the agency said it will launch a payment scheme that will tap QR codes, bank cards, and even smartphones and smartwatches using near-field communications system. No other details yet were released as to when it will be carried out.