O-CITY to use MPESA in driving contactless fare payments in Nairobi’s matatu network
BPC’s automated fare collection service provider, O-CITY has announced its new initiative dubbed ‘Lipafare’ aimed at driving contactless payments across 10,000 matatu buses in Nairobi, Kenya. The O-CITY pilot, designed to reduce the use of cash in response to the COVID-19 pandemic hopes to accelerate the deployment of cashless fare collection in partnership with Kenya’s transport savings and credit specialists, NikoDigi, and payments firm, Tracom.
O-CITY’s automated fare collection platform will leverage on Safaricom’s mobile money, M-PESA to offer an accessible payment solution by enabling customers to enter a code on their phone and a debit will be made on their wallet, which can be instantly seen by drivers to grant access to ride. Over 70% of Kenya’s population that use matatu transport and have been complaining of how harsh the conductors are when returning their balances now have a better alternative as the automated fare collection platform will significantly reduce the levels of abuse, theft, and corruption since the payment for transport fares will occur through the collection facility rather than in cash.
“The move away from cash to contactless public transport is an important part of this movement. At O-CITY, we know that innovation does not always require new technologies, but instead new ways of performing a task. By connecting our O-CITY platform to mobile wallet M-Pesa, we’re able to build a simple contactless fare solution that is familiar to the customer and likely to encourage adoption. Moreover, it enables us to scale fast to roll out the service at a time when cashless payments have newfound importance,” said Tokhir Abdukadyrov, SVP of smart city and transport solutions at BPC.
The company says O-CITY’s platform is also built to make fare collection more transparent between the bus owners, drivers, and the SACCOs whose buses have been licensed to operate under. The digitalization of the transactions will enable visibility and reliability of fare data and remove the friction of exchanging money and time taken for drivers to pick up passengers.
O-CITY’s pilot has rolled out an educational campaign to get the bus owners and drivers on board to become champions of the service. Patrick Karera, Managing Director at Nikodigi said the platform has been designed in a manner that it doesn’t take control away from the drivers and conductors or radically change how they operate.
“Having provided savings and credit management solutions for both the Matatu and Boda Boda (motorbike taxi) sectors, Nikodigi understands the needs of vehicle owners and drivers. The platform has been embraced by passengers because of its ease of use, but also because it eliminates cash transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Karera.