The cashless system in Kenya is officially pie in the sky following numerous innovations, launches and ideas turned null. The thought of not having to carry cash around feels secure and absolutely convenient. I however think the timing to push the project in Kenya is wrong.
The government announced commencement of using cashless systems in government operations last year in a bid to control the country’s economy by controlling revenue. Even after close to two years, full implementation of the project is still a wish. Maybe it is the usual government clumsiness with its project or the usual people procrastination that stands between us and the cashless life.
Public Transport system;
When the commuter cards first rolled out in 2012, Google’s BebaCard pioneered the industry and the system was a first in East Africa putting Kenya top on the list of African countries in the use of cashless systems. Abiria card later followed then the big flop with cards not in use lying in thousands of wallets. The system was fun and merry in the beginning until conductors noticed they could no longer overcharge passengers and their daily wages became minimal the more commuters subscribed to the system.
Time we got back the megarider;
Commuter buses and matatus later ditched swiping gadgets leaving commuters with loaded cards and no refunds. This is the very reason the system has been ignored today; Loss of money. In the past, similar cards have been rolled out only to collapse and have the commuters lose money to companies. Most developed countries use standard tickets with systems planted at bus and train terminus where the commuter selects a ticket which they use for either a whole day, two days or even a week. No one has to supervise the machines or even swipe any cards which is the exact direction Kenya should follow considering this very cards are prone to cloning now that the system is not pin and chip.
The other day I boarded a ‘matatu’ on Ngong road the heart of ‘my 1963’ the recently launched commuter card and the lady conductor asked for the cards which was followed by gasps from the passengers who were ready and happy to pay using raw cash. Not even a single passenger had the card even after the government introduced a penalty for commuters who don’t meet the requirement.
Maybe that is a tall order for our digital government. Remember the megarider? That is exactly what Kenya needs. The system is cashless, economically friendly and convenient for the government in terms of revenue collection and the individual using the system. No cloning, no fare deduction errors and hopefully it will not attract so many deadline revisions.
On the other hand, public service vehicles will have to work out a way of paying daily wages to conductors and allowances to take care of fuel and possible break downs. Conductors will also not have to worry about refunding fares in case of a breakdown. That is just me thinking and feeling right about the thought that will do away with all the swiping hulabaloo.
Lipa na Mpesa
Swahili term for pay via M-pesa a mobile money platform. The system by telecommunications company Safaricom is the only cashless system that has so far recorded success with the system accommodating all social classes since the business owner can receive payment for goods and services from Ksh10 to ksh70,000 without the customer being charged transaction fee. Businesses now find it more convenient to use the platform instead of exchanging cash which is more secure and convenient.
The cashless system now has business owners covered without having to worry about fake currency. Lipa Na Mpesa has also opened up better and bigger online shopping channels across the country where customers can pay using the system either on delivery or prior, payment reflecting real time on both ends. Kenyans seem stuck with the system which is the only cashless system dream that has come true.
The international digital wallet has also registered success as a cashless system platform in the country over the last few months where the online money transfer system has gained popularity since the platform provides customers easy usability.
Business owners don’t have to use traditional paper methods such as checks and money orders but only cashless processes at a reasonable fee. Currently the largest internet payment company, the platform has recorded high currency circulation across countries in different continents acting as an acquirer perfoming payment processing for online vendors, auction sites and other online commercial users.
Hopefully 2015 will be the dawn of the cashless system in the journey towards a cashless country not to forget the extended public transport cashless system deadline. E-parking in the country should be extended to other counties and fully implemented. E-meals in universities is also an idea awaiting implementation. E-tax, e-payment of allowances for civil servants and the list is endless and quite promising. Only time will tell.