Safaricom on Thursday, February 4 announced a partnership with Forward Travelers sacco that will see 70 matatus operationalize its cashless fare payment platform.

It brings to 400 the number of matatus in Nairobi accepting payment fares via the platform. The system was already in use in 300 City Star Shuttle vehicles.

The partnership with Forward Travelers will enable commuters on the Juja Road, Kangundo Road and Malaa routes to easily pay fare using M-Pesa.

The platform is powered by Simple Fare, a mobile and financial integration technology developed by Netcen Interactives. Fares paid via M-Pesa reflect instantly on the matatu crew’s phones, with the crew also able to access daily reports and withdraw funds directly to their M-Pesa wallets.

The platform is accessible on all phones and also via a web portal.

Cashless payments have been recommended across sectors as one way of curbing the spread of Covid-19, catalyzing innovation in the space.

“In addition to supporting the fight against the pandemic, this platform facilitates seamless interactions across the ecosystem.

“It greatly boosts the matatu owners’ efforts of tracking their investments, while the SACCO can monitor their members’ activities. Such is the value that can be unlocked by embracing technological advancements. It is the future,” noted Netcen Chief Executive Ephantus Thuku.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa also welcomed the partnership, expressing confidence that it would be expanded to serve as many commuters as possible.

“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,” he asserted.

Safaricom was among 29 companies licensed by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to establish a digital payments platform for over 200,000 matatus across the country.

Others included lenders and IT companies such as NCBA, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Jambo Pay and Cellulant. Previously abandoned plans for a ban on cash payments in matatus are also reportedly being reconsidered.


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