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Bus company partners with Safaricom for cashless fare

Nairobi commuters using Forward Travelers Sacco buses will have an option to pay their fares directly through Lipa Na M-Pesa following a partnership between giant telecommunications firm Safaricom and the matatu operator.

In a statement released on Thursday, Safaricom said the service will be available effective immediately in more than 70 Forward Travelers matatus plying Juja Road, Kangundo Road and Malaa Routes.

“M-Pesa is increasingly becoming a preferred way to pay and collect fare for commuters and matatus. It has therefore become necessary to partner with the matatu sector to provide them with solutions that make it easy to collect and reconcile payments empowering them to efficiently run their businesses,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

In the coming weeks, the telco said it will complete the rollout of the service for the 400 matatus plying the Kayole – CBD Route.

The service is powered by Simple Fare, a mobile and financial integration technology developed by Netcen Interactives.

Simple Fare enables a commuter to pay fare through Lipa Na M-Pesa with the payment immediately reflecting to the bus crew’s phones.

It provides matatu owners with a daily report on fares collected and enables the withdrawal of funds to their M-pesa accounts.

The service works across all phones and is equally available on an online portal.

Cashless payment uptake has been growing in the public transport sector as more passengers and service providers continue to take up the service.

According to Safaricom, the deal has been prompted by rapid growth of cashless payment in the public transport sector as more passengers and service providers continue to adopt safer and convenient modes of payment during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This platform facilitates seamless interactions across the ecosystem. It greatly boosts the matatu owners’ efforts of tracking their investments…It is the future,” CEO Netcen Ephantus Thuku said.
The signing up of Forward Travelers Sacco brings to over 400 the number of public service vehicles that now accept payment of fares through M-pesa.

The system is already in use in more than 300 City Star Shuttle vehicles in Nairobi.

Safaricom is among a group of lenders and IT companies that have been licensed to offer cashless payments in Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), setting the stage for the ban of use of cash in public transport.

In a notice, last month, National Safety and Transport Authority (NTSA) said the licensed 29 companies will offer a platform for cashless fare payment service.

The digital fare collection system will also have the technical capability to contact trace passengers in the fight against coronavirus disease.

Once the system is in place, all passengers will be required to pay their fares via mobile money platforms, giving the government access to their identities and personal contact information that is needed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted lives wor