Google To Exit Cashless Fare Business In Kenya

Google To Exit Cashless Fare Business In Kenya

Over 100,000 public service commuters in Nairobi will have to find alternative ways of paying for their daily trips to and from work from March 15 after Google announced that it will withdraw its cashless fare payment card, Bebapay.

Bebapay, a prepaid travel card that helps city commuters use public metropolis buses, is the pioneer of cashless bus payment in Kenya’s Capital Nairobi. It is a partnership between the international search engine giant Google and the country’s largest bank by consumers, Equity Bank.

In a notice to its customers, Google said it will discontinue the card services from mid next month and encouraged them to exhaust their balance or apply for a refund after March 28.

The tech firms said it was shifting focus from the payments space.

“We are consolidating projects to focus on less within the payments space,” Dorothy Ooko, Google’s communications and public affairs manager for East and Francophone Africa, told Business Daily.

The withdrawal of BebaPay in Kenya comes barely 10 months after Google withdrew a similar card from the Philippines market where it had deployed it at De La Salle University in Manila.

Google had partnered with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to pilot the use of the card at De La Salle University in Manila, where students paid for food and purchases at the bookstore and photocopying stations using the card, Business Daily reported.

Kenya is in the process of introducing cashless public transport payment i  major cities and has seen an entry of a couple of firms offering the same service as Bebapay including Pepea, Tangaza Pesa PSV card, My 1963 and M-Nauli. Most of these new cards are backed by local banks and telcos.

Kenya’s public transport industry generates an estimated $2.4 billion annually and stands to earn cash-lite transport card firms $23 million every year in commissions.