Kenya Is Going Cashless

By on 02/07/2014
Kenya's transport system goes cashless, the first in Africa. Photo: iStock

From 1 July, the Kenyan Government is rolling out a cashless smart card system for use on all of the nation’s public service vehicles. The card, created by Google’s BebaPay, will be loaded with money before being swiped upon entry to the vehicle, charging the customer without the need for handfuls of change.

The move had been met with some opposition however. The programme initially had a strict deadline of 1 July for widespread implementation. Speaking on behalf of over 4000 Matatu (minibus) drivers, Nakuru Central Matatu SACCO Chairman Steven Muli described how ‘the conductors need time to be sensitised on how to operate the system; the commuters need time to obtain their cards too’.

It had been the fear of the Matatu drivers that the lack of information and promotion of the system would mean the immediacy of the deadline would be impossible to adhere to, and that those living within the interior of the country, who rarely travel, would be unaware of the changes. Similarly, Mr Muli revealed that none of the Matatu drivers’ vehicles in Nakuru had yet been fitted with a cashless system.

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, Michael Kamau, announced that, given these concerns, the implementation will be graduated and that no prosecutions would take place until the entire system has been rolled out.

A number of countries already utilize cashless smart cards, with India’s BEST buses and London’s Oyster Card obvious inspirations. However, never before has the technology been implemented to such a widespread extent.

Story by Tom Lloyd

About Graham Scott

Graham is an experienced editor and publisher and an award-winning writer. He has travelled extensively and is interested in world cultures.

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