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Matatu operators set to reintroduce cashless fare system

 When former President Uhuru Kenyatta and the late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore used their cards to pay for a matatu ride from state house to KICC after registering for the new cashless payment system for public service vehicles. [File, Standard]

Public transport operators are set to re-introduce the cashless fare payment system that fizzled soon after launch in 2019 owing to operational difficulties.

Calvin Nyaure, chairman of the Cashless Select Committee formed by Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) and Federation of Public Transport Sector (FPTS), said the operators have resolved outstanding payment issues involving interoperability and the switch payment solutions that prevented an integrated cashless payment system through a common card.

FPTS, an umbrella body representing the matatu industry in the transformation of public transport, said they will roll out the cashless platform in March for an 18-month pilot phase.

"This issue has actually been resolved. Technology has also improved in that we have some tech companies that have introduced simple ways of doing payments that can incorporate some of the newest models that are there for payment," Nyaure said.

The rollout will initially cover matatus plying the Nairobi Metropolitan Area covering Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi and Kiambu.

FPTS says it has a network of 750,000 public service vehicles countrywide, out of which over 367,000 operate in Nairobi and its environs.

Payment options

The pilot will also involve Namata, who are part of organisations leading the talks.

At the same time, SasaPay and PSV operator Oma Service are rolling out a similar payment option for passengers using electric buses supplied by BasiGo.

It will enable passengers of Oma service bus to use SasaPay to pay for their journey.

SasaPay is a mobile money wallet product by ViewTech Ltd and has been licensed as a payment service provider Central Bank of Kenya to provide mobile money Wallet services.

"My vison is to have a cashless matatu industry in Kenya," said Oma service Chairman George Githinji.

"We believe that this service will make it easier and more convenient for passengers to use our buses, and we look forward to working together to make cashless payment more accessible to everyone."

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