Earlier in the year, the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Transport gave a directive to the public transport sector in the country, requiring the sector to implement electronic payment systems in all public vehicles.
The directive was to meet a July deadline but was later postponed for end of year. This led to the development of a cashless prepaid card through a collaboration between Matatu owners, Matatu Welfare Association and Fibre Space Limited who developed the cashless card.
Dubbed My1963 and launched in May 2014, the cashless card which comes in two different designs was again introduced to Kenyans by President Uhuru Kenyatta on November 5. This saw the president board a matatu from State House to KICC and pay a fee of Kshs. 30 for the ride. Safaricomâ€™s CEO Bob Collymore and Ministry of Transport CS, Michael Kamau, were also on board for the ride.
The service will see commuters use a prepaid card to pay their fares replacing the current method where fares are paid using cash. The cards will be topped up using mobile money solution, M-PESA.
The service will use NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, requiring commuters to only tap their cards against a terminal installed in Public Service Vehicles, to pay their fare..
â€œMy 1963 fits in with the drive towards creating a CashLite society, and its implementation starting today will also address insecurity which had become rampant in public transportation, with criminals targeting the commutersâ€™ money as well as the dayâ€™s takings from the crews,â€ said Simon Kimutai from Matatu Owners Association.
Speaking during the event, Safaricomâ€™s Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said, â€œWith nearly 20 million customers, M-PESA has become the most convenient way for a Kenyans to transact. We are glad that My 1963 has chosen to work with M-PESA, and used the Near Field Technology to make transactions fasterâ€.
He explained, â€œThis development is timely, coming as we prepare to relocate the M-PESA backbone system to enable an increase in the number of transactions per second, and allow for deeper integration with other CashLite initiativesâ€.
During the event, the Matatu Owners Association also announced an anticipated partnership with the National Youth Service, to train drivers working in the public transport sector; geared at instilling discipline on the road with a long term view of reducing the number of accidents, death and injuries on the roads.
In addition, auto firm General Motors EA handed over 10 Isuzu buses for a demo program for a period of six months to the President for use by youth groups to enhance their capacity to work in the bus transport business.
Themed, Road Safety, Reduce the Risk…Start with me; the congress saw industry players also draw focus on advocacy for road safety.
The PSV congress that will go a long way in boosting cohesion among players in the industry received sponsorship from Safaricom, General Motors EA, Invesco, National Bank of Kenya, Engen Kenya, NHIF, KCB, International Labour Organization (ILO), Toyota Hino, Pinacle, Papo Hapo and 1963.