In order to better understand the problem, let us study an article published in Sept. 2016 By Kenneth Odero “Kenya’s Cashless Payment System For Public Transport Was Doomed By A Series Of Experience Design Failures”
Two years after Kenya’s National Transport Safety Authority introduced a cashless payment system for public transport, this initiative appears to have failed, following slow uptake of prepaid cards by commuters and resistance from Public Service Vehicle operators (PSV).
Conflict of Interest Among Stake Holders:
Kenya’s public transport sector is operated through SACCOs, and the complex ownership structure where vehicles are owned and operated by private individuals.
A number of companies introduced cards. Google was the first mover in the space, PesaPrint entered the fray with the Metro Card, Kenya Bus introduced its Abiria Card and the Safaricom-backed My 1963 card was also launched with much fanfare. PSV operators also formed Pamoja Ltd.
Resistance from Matatu crews
Commuters are charged highly variable fares depending on a number of factors that range from weather to time, for instance during rush hours and rainy weather, matatus would game the system and charge double the fare. The cashless system would limit such loopholes. As a result, matatu crews were unwilling to adopt the new technology.
The cashless system also failed to take into account the arrangement that the PSV owners have with their crews, where they would get a fixed agreed amount on a daily basis. With passengers using the card to pay, the matatu crews would be denied an income.
High Commission Charged by Banks
NTSA blames the non-implementation of the ticketing technology to the high rates charged by the banks. The banks charge a 5 percent commission in addition to KES10,000 (US$98) as the cost of the card readers, which puts off potential investors who find it expensive to operate considering the technology is yet to take off.
Traffic officers and other interested parties
Public transport vehicles are popular among traffic police officers who regularly target them for bribes. Transport cards would render these vehicles cashless and hence no bribes to the ever-present traffic officers on highways. The traffic officers would, therefore, be motivated to derail the system in order to secure their illicit income.
It is therefore not surprising that the uptake of electronic ticketing has failed to take off despite the convenience it brings to the commuters.
The writer has 19 years of industry experience in AFC system: autofare.net