Uber set to start accepting cash, mobile payments in Kenya

tech

It’s 2 am on Saturday morning and you are leaving the rave somwhere in Nairobi’s Westlands. You fish out your phone, and attempt to request an Uber. "Card rejected" reads the response. The bank just stood in the way of your and your money. Your card has been rejected. And of course Uber does not take Mpesa payments.

"Why couldn’t Uber just have talked to Safaricom and got them to implement an Mpesa API?" You think to yourself. "Or why couldn’t Uber just talk the banks into making card payments easier? It’s a B2B issue."

If you are reading this in Kenya, your bank sucks.
It is not news to you. You know it. They know it. They know you know it. And your Mpesa agent knows it.

Card payments are one aspect where Kenyan banks are just plain pathetic. It gets even worse when you try to use your card to pay for an Uber.The terrible state of card payments in Kenya has no doubt held back the growth of the online taxi hailing service since it launched in Kenya last year.

Well, Uber announced this week that they are testing cash and mobile payments.
Last month Uber start accepting cash in the Indian city of Hyderabad. In April Uber started accepting cash payments for the first time for it’s rickshaw hailing service in another Indian market, Delhi.

You will now be able to pay cash for your ride. You may also pay through mobile money services such as MPesa and Airtel Money. Under the plan, each Uber driver will have an individual Lipa Na Mpesa till number or Airtel Money account.

Local competitors such as Rocket Internet backed Easy Taxi and Mara Moja already accept cash and mobile payments.

Big Box or Big Hoax? If you are thinking of purchasing the Safaricom Big Box this weekend, don’t

tech

If you are thinking of purchasing the Safaricom Big Box this weekend, don’t.

I arrived home excited with my shiny new Safaricom Big Box a couple of weeks ago. At the Safaricom shop I had inquired about antennas, and the set top box’s DVB-T2 functionality. I was concerned specifically about it’s ability to work with my building’s common antenna. As is often the case, I soon realized I had been worried about the wrong thing altogether.

Straight out of the box, the Big Box picked up all the available digital channels. The initial setup was pretty straight forward to my pleasant surprise. After connecting the box to the common antenna, and an initial scan, I now had digital TV. I could access channels carried on Signet, free to air PANG , ADN and even a couple of Bamba channels. Nice. I could watch DW and Al Jazeera courtesy of Bamba. I had access to the local Big 3, Citizen, NTV and KTN. So far, so good.

Then came the hard bit. Connecting to the Internet.

Of course if I had wanted to watch TV, I could just have copped a Bamba TV set top box. What drew me to the Big Box, was internet access, and the prospect of free YouTube.

I selected YouTube from the menu, and was somewhat disappointed to find that there was no YouTube app. What was there was a browser window that linked to YouTube.com. I could live with that, I thought.

And there it was. Glorious YouTube. For a whole 5 minutes. Then it all took a turn for the worse. I attempted to view a video. The video would not load. I got an network connectivity failure error instead. A second attempt failed. I tried to connect to the Internet from the default Android browser. This failed too.

I contacted Safaricom’s fairly responsive Twitter customer care team. I received a call a little later from a Safaricom customer care representative. I was advised to reset the box. I dutifully did so, but then nothing. I was still unable to connect to YouTube. Or to the Internet for that matter.
I complained to customer care again. This time after a long phone conversation I was asked to go to “Settings” and provide the rep with the Big Box’s IP address. I was then advised to disconnect from 3G/4G and reconnect. I had been assigned a new IP address.

I was able to connect to the Internet for a full 15 minutes. After that my connection went to shit. I was unable to connect to the Internet at all.

I contacted customer care a third time. This was quickly turning into some sort of terrible joke.

In the 18 days since, I have spoken to customer care on a dozen different occasions. To my dismay, I have learnt what anyone who has dealt with Safaricom’s customer care on a few occasions knows. Safaricom customer care have a script. Switch off the box, switch it back on. Disconnect from 3G. Switch to wired. Turn off the box. Turn it back on. We will escalate with our network team and revert. Meaningless platitudes. Rarely does anything get resolved. It’s good PR, but little more.

Safaricom’s 3G network is excellent in my area. I have gotten speeds of upto 245KBps on a phone that I had placed on top of the set top box. So there was no weird network vortex or “dark spot” where I had positioned the Big Box. So why couldn’t I connect to the Internet, I kept asking.

A visit to the Safaricom Shop I had purchased the box from established that my line was yet to be registered. I had provided ID when I purchased the box, and filled and signed a registration form. The line had not been registered two weeks on. There was also an issue with the tariff I was on, I was informed. Taking two weeks to register a line was unacceptable they concurred. I was given 650 MB of data to get me through the night, as my issues were being resolved.

The fact that Safaricom’s customer care hadn’t realized in 2 weeks of calls that my Big Box line was not registered is in itself perplexing. Safaricom’s right hand didn’t seem to know what it’s left hand was doing. Or simply didn’t care.

The situation had not improved a week later, and I visited the store again. My line had not yet been registered. This time I ensured that they had registered the line while I was in store. I also confirmed that the 6GB bundle I had purchased along with the box was intact.

I went back home and finally after 16 days, a dozen calls to customer care and 3 visits to the Safaricom store where I bought the box, I was able to connect to the internet.

But wait there is more.

I managed to watch just the one video. Attempts to connect to the device’s hot spot from my laptop failed. I switched off the Big Box and reconnected to Safaricom’s 3G network again. Finally I was able to connect to the Internet from my laptop via the Big Box’s hot spot. A few minutes later I ran into a new, annoying hurdle. Safaricom’s weird traffic shaping seemed to disconnect me from the 3G network once my usage hit 100 MB or so. I then had to disconnect and reconnect to the network so I that I could be assigned a new IP. This involved switching off the box on occasion and disrupting any TV viewing in the living room. For folks that are offering free YouTube, the 100MB cap is bizarre. How many YouTube videos are those?

I wonder what exactly could be gained by cutting off access for people who are paying for their internet by the megabyte once they hit a certain cap. I would be okay with Safaricom limiting access to free YouTube. But limiting access to my email on a bundle I paid for is infuriating.

Safaricom sells the Big Box as a smart media consumption device with great internet connectivity and free YouTube for the first three months.

What you do get with the Safaricom Big Box is a DVB -T2 set top box with PVR functionality. The PVR functionality means you can record TV shows and view them later. The box also comes with built in DLNA support so you can connect to your UPnP media server, though I am yet to test this.

The TV watching experience is not without annoyances. Blinking message envelopes keep popping up on your screen. You will have to go to the menu, leaving your enjoyable Mexican telenovella, to access these cryptic messages. The messages themselves read like AT commands, and they typically mean nothing to you. So why would anyone want to be notified of AT commands being sent to their device again, Safaricom?

The box itself is pretty standard set top box/mini PC fare. It runs Android 4.x. There is no information in the settings on the exact version of Android it is running or the kernel. The box comes with 1 GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. These specs read like those of the average Alcatel One Touch phone. It has an SD card slot if you need extra storage. OTG works great on the device so you could just plug in a flash disk or hard disk via the single USB port. The SIM card is internal meaning you are locked to Safaricom’s network.

It works fine as a router too. But then, so does your stock Android handset.

I have since learnt that I had purchased The Big Box the day after it’s launch. I have been punished accordingly for that mistake. It has been one of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had with any device.

The Big Box looks increasingly like a hurried product. There are so many kinks, network or otherwise, that are yet to be worked out. You are supposed to dial *422# to check your bundle balance but I am yet to come across a dialer on the device. Calls to the 422 customer care number do not go through. I doubt that any Safaricom engineers actually took the box home with them for testing. I find the internet connectivity bits particularly irksome.

Zuku and company need not fret it seems. Judging from my experience, Safaricom isn’t about to eat anyone’s lunch.

Acute Water Shortage Hits Ruaka After Nairobi Water reportedly cuts off local Water Service Provider’s Supply

as told by moshe, Kenya

Ruaka has been experiencing an acute water shortage since Saturday last week. The Nairobi Water and Sewarage company reportedly cut off supply to the Karuri Water and Sewarage Company over a billing dispute. The Karuri Water and Sewarage Company supplies the entire former Karuri Township area including Ruaka. Karuri Township is located in Kiambu county, just North West of Nairobi. Karuri Water and Sewarage in turn receives its supply from the Nairobi Water and Sewarage Company. Nairobi Water’s main reservoir, Ndakaine Dam, is located in Kiambu.
No official communication has been issued by the Karuri Water Company yet. The status of the dispute is unknown, and it’s not clear whether the Water Service Providers are working on a resolution.
In the meantime Ruaka residents have been bitten hard by lack of water. Residents have to part with as much as KES 50 for a 20 litre jerrican of the precious commodity.
All this in the middle of massive floods hitting the greater Nairobi area and a cholera outbreak in the country.

Government bans remittance services in wake of Garissa massacre

tech

The Government of Kenya announced this week a ban on several remittance services. The remittance firms were among individuals and entities alleged to finance terror in an official list published Wednesday by the police.This comes in the wake of a brutal attack on students at Garissa University College,that resulted in at least 147 casualties. The Somali militant group, Al Shabaab considered a terrorist outfit by the Kenyan government claimed responsibility for the attack. The government appears to be of the view that the proscribed money transfer systems are widely used by Al Shabaab’s sympathisers and financiers.
The services are said to be popular among businessmen in Nairobi’s Eastleigh district. Somali money transfer services typically charge lower commissions than larger services. Fees are often in the range of 3–4% for amounts over USD 1000, significantly lower than the 7.1% — 7.2% percent charged by Money Gram,
Dahabshiil, literally “gold smelter” is probably the most well known of these services. The service has a prominently placed outlet on Kimathi Street, Nairobi.
Founded in Burco, Somalia in 1970, the firm grew quickly to become the largest of the Somali diaspora’s money transfer services. Currently headquartered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Dahabshiil claims over 24,000 outlets and nore than 2000 employees in 144 countries. Dahabshiil claimed revenues of over USD 300 million in 2009. Once a general trading concern, the firm found success in the remittance business during the 1970s, benefitting from growing numbers of Somali migrant workers in the Gulf sending money back home. The service used a trade based Franco Valuta system to great effect in the face of government foreign exchange controls in Somalia. Under the Franco Valuta system goods are imported,and proceeds from their sale are sent to migrant’s families.
Dahabshiil opened it’s first office in London in the late nineteen eighties, quickly gaining currency among Somalis who had moved to Britain fleeing the Somali civil war.
Dahabshiil is no stranger to controversy. There have been internet reports that a Dahabshiil money transfer agemt was detained in Guantamo Bay from 2002 to 2009. The firm is said to have hired a lobbying and PR firm to manipulate Google rankings to ensure that the results did not feature prominently in search results. In 2011, popular Somali musician and politician Saado Warsame is reported to have released a protest song “Dhiigshiil ha dhigan” (loosely “Don’t Use Dahabshiil”).In the song Warsame refers to Dahabshiil as a “blood smelter”.
The firm struck a deal last year with Barclays Bank after a long running dispute with the bank. In May 2013, Barclays had announced that it would terminate the accounts of Dahabshiil, along with numerous smaller Somali remittance services. The move was reportedly sparked by regulatory compliance and terror financing concerns
Critics dismissed the ban as a knee-jerk reaction, noting that the money transfer operators were fully compliant with Central Bank rules and guidelines. As of the time of publishing this, Dahabshiil was still on the list of licensed money remittance providers on the Central Bank of Kenya website.
United Nations estimates put the value of remittances sent home from the Somali diaspora at around USD 1.6 billion every year.

Safaricom Publishes New Mpesa Tariffs: Was that a decrease? Or an increase?

tech

Yesterday, Safaricom announced that it will be decreasing it’s Mpesa tariffs. Good, we all thought. Equity’s pending entry into the mobile payments market is finally going to make things competitive. The new rates published by Safaricom today though give a somewhat conflicting picture.
There are reductions in the lower bands, coupled with increases in higher bands. The transfer fee for the voluminous KES 501 to KES 1000 band has been slashed by 44% to KES 15 from KES 27. The popular KES 1001 to KES 1500 band has also had its transfer fee reduced by 24.2% from KES 33 to KES 25. The largest tariff cut is in the minimal KES 10 to KES 49 band. Sending money in this band will now cost KES 1 down from KES 3, a 66.6% reduction.
Those sending money in higher bands though, will have to part with more starting tomorrow. Transfer fees for the KES 1501 to KES 2500 band for instance have been hiked by 21.2% from KES 33 to KES 40. Those sending amounts between KES 2501 to KES 3500  though will have to part with KES 55, up from KES 33, a 66.6% increase. The largest price hike has been reserved for the KES 3501 to KES 5000 band. Sending money in this band will now cost you KES 60, up from KES 33, an 81% increase.

Safaricom had earlier indicated that it would not be reacting to Equity’s entry into the mobile money transfer market with price cuts. The firm’s CEO Bob Collymore rather smugly pointed out that transfer fee price cuts by Airtel on it’s Airtel Money service had had little effect on its mammoth market share. Safaricom, however, seems to have since recognized Equity Bank for the formidable competitor bank is. The Communication Authority’s recent directive that Safaricom open up its agent network must have weighed on its pricing decision too.
The new rates go into effect tomorrow Thursday, 21st August 2014. Withdrawal commissions remained unchanged.

Transaction Range Minimum Transcation Range Maximum New Rate: Transfer to Other M-Pesa Users Old Rate: Transfer to Other M-Pesa Users Transfer to Unregistered Users Withdrawal from MPesa Agent
10 49 3 1 N/A N/A
50 100 5 3 N/A 10
101 500 27 11 66 27
501 1000 15 33 66 27
1001 1500 25 33 66 27
1501 2500 40 33 66 27
2501 3500 55 33 88 49
3501 5000 60 33 105 66
5001 7500 75 55 143 82
7501 10000 85 55 171 110
10001 15000 95 55 220 159
15001 20000 100 55 237 176
20001 25000 110 82 275 187
25001 30000 110 82 275 187
30001 35000 110 82 275 187
35001 40000 110 82 N/A 275
40001 45000 110 82 N/A 275
45001 50000 110 110 N/A 275
50001 70000 110 110 N/A 330

What Airtel’s win in petition to have Safaricom open up it’s Mpesa network means

Kenya, mobile banking and m-payments, money, payments, tech

Last month, Airtel Kenya won a petition against rival telco Safaricom. Airtel
had charged that Safaricom were enjoying undue advantage by enforcing an
exclusivity clause in its contracts with its MPesa agent network that barred MPesa agents from engaging in business with competing mobile network operators. Earlier in the month, the Communications Authority of Kenya wrote
both firms, directing Safariom to “immediately expunge” all restrictive clauses in the agreements between the mobile operator and it’s mobile money transfer agents.
The government agency set a deadline of 18th July “in any event” for Safaricom to effect the changes.
The Authority however stopped short of ruling on interoperability between Mpesa and rival mobile money transfer services, along with the cost of transactions with Authority Director-General Wangombe Kairuki being quoted as saying it was an issue that required input from both the Communications Authority and the Central Bank of Kenya
Could this landmark ruling by the Communications Authority be a harbinger for
the decline of Safaricom’s MPesa, and eventually the mobile telecommunications firm’s own decline?
As it is rival networks have suffered greatly from a lack of agents, with Safaricom’s near monopolization of mobile money agents. Could the opening of Safaricom’s pervasive nationwide agent network provide the much needed jolt that rival mobile money networks so badly need?
In all fairness though, rival services have also been held back by factors other than the lack of agent networks. There is little product differentiation between the various mobile money transfer offerings for instance. The lack of
an API for online merchants is a glaring inadequacy of current mobile payment services. Online commerce in Kenya still suffers from a lack of payment options. Those that do exist have no serviceable API through which integration
with merchant site software could be performed. Orange’s Orange Money, Yu Mobile’s Yu Cash, Airtel Money, Tangaza, MobiKash and the smattering of mobile money transfer services in existence today have all joined Safaricom in being
oblivious of an opportunity that is a potential game changer.
With the exception Airtel’s Airtel Money, rival offerings are not very compelling on the pricing count. Airtel made the bold move of eliminating transfer fees for its Airtel Money mobile money transfer service, mounting a
pricing challenge against MPesa. Orange Money’s pricing is at par with MPesa,
as is Yu Cash’s, presenting prospective customers little incentive to move away from MPesa.
It would seem competitors were not entirely sold on the necessity of a service such as MPesa at the onset.  That coupled with initial regulatory ambivalence made them hesitate, with firms choosing instead to compete in the voice and data segments. Little or no effort went into developing and promoting their mobile money transfer services. Consequently as MPesa took off, contending services either arrived late in the day or suffered from half hearted marketing efforts. Their mobile money offerings have since been marketed almost as an afterthought.
And what would have been an obvious move to tackle Safaricom, launching a joint service with attendant synergistic benefits was apparently never an option for competitors.
Ultimately the real beneficiary of the Authority’s decision might be Equity Bank. The ruling paves way for Equity’s much heralded mobile money transfer service, itself the subject of recent legal actions by Safaricom. The restrictions no doubt made it difficult for Equity to recruit agents. As it is most Equity banking agents also double up as MPesa agents. Equity’s entry into the mobile money arena would put this arrangement in jeopardy. The agents would have to choose between the banking giant’s nascent offering and Safaricom’s established MPesa service. No prizes for guessing which one they would likely choose.

Bitcoin: A primer Part I

Bitcoin, money, payments, tech

Countless Bitcoin primers exist on the Internet today. What, with the increased interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Flawed as they may be in the present, it is becoming apparent with each passing day that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are going to be an important part of our digital future. A lot of these Bitcoin primers read like doctoral theses, replete with technical minutiae. Those that seek to simplify matters , simply do not have enough meat on their bones and are often fraught with plain misinformation. In this article,and others in my Bitcoin primer series, I will attempt to explain technical concepts in simple terms and at the same time convey as much of the essence of Bitcoin as possible.

It would serve anyone reading this piece well to understand four basic facts clearly. First off, Bitcoins do not exist. You cannot point to a file or an object and call it a Bitcoin. What exist are records of transactions of Bitcoin in  a sort of master ledger called the block chain. Secondly and more importantly, Bitcoin is cash. Bitcoin is not a form of electronic banking. Making payments with Bitcoins is a lot more like paying with cash than paying with your credit card or debit card. Thirdly, much like you do not require a graduate education in monetary studies to spend fiat currencies, you do not require an advanced understanding of cryptography or indeed technology in general to spend or accept Bitcoin. Fourth, there is no central bank that issues Bitcoin.The purpose of Bitcoin is to eliminate the need for such trusted third parties as central banks. Wiith these popular misconceptions about Bitcoin out of the way, the rest of this primer will read a lot easier.

So, what pray tell is Bitcoin?  A bit of history is in order here. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto authored  a paper that proposed the creation of a peer to peer electronic cash system.. The system would allow  online payments to be sent directly from one party to another party, eliminating the need for trusted third parties such as financial institutions by creating trust by cryptographic means. Questions still abound as to the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, or whether Satoshi is indeed one person or various people.  Satoshi has remained anonymous despite numerous attempts over the years to uncover her real identity. Satoshi is credited with the invention of Bitcoin and the burgeoning number of other cryptocurrencies in existence today.

As any banker or financier will tell you, all money is virtual. Money largely does not exist in the physical sense. Millions are transacted through banks daily simply by changing figures in the bank’s ledger, debiting and crediting accounts. What exist are physical tokens such as paper notes and metal coins. These paper notes and coins are referred to as currency or cash. They serve the important purpose of keeping money current, allowing people to reassign ownership of money. In fact the  Miiddle English root of the word current “curraunt” means simply “in circulation”.

Bitcoin is a cash system created in 2009 that utilizes digital tokens called unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs) in lieu of physical tokens such as paper notes and metal coins. Think of these unspent transactional units as digital coins. When you pay with Bitcoin, you reassign ownership of one or more of your digital coins to the recipient. When you accept a Bitcoin  payment you receive one or more of these digital coins.

Unspent transactional outputs or  digital coins are held in a Bitcoin address. If you were to think of your unspent transaction outputs as cash notes and coins, think of your Bitcoin address as an envelope where you stash your notes.  On terra firma , a single envelope may hold one or more currency notes and coins. Likewise, a single address can hold multiple coins at the same time. And just like having multiple envelopes to stash your cash in is possible, albeit unwieldy at times, you may generate multiple Bitcoin addresses to hold multiple coins in at the same time. When making a payment,you may draw notes from different envelopes. Much in the same way a Bitcoin transaction may draw  coins from different addresses.

One Bitcoin is currently divided into 100 million smaller units called Satoshis. One satoshi is defined by eight decimal places. That is 0.00000001 BTC. The point here is, Bitcoin is infinitesimally divisible.  Ensuring that a single Bitcoin can be divided into much smaller units is important in two ways. First, it makes it easier to price goods and services in Bitcoin and enables people to transact with Bitcoin when paying for every day goods. As at the time of writing this, Bitcoin  was exchanging for USD 570.65 on Bitcoin exchanges. Being able to divide a Bitcoin means you would be able to pay BTC 0.001 for bread in Kenya. More importantly, by design only a finite number of Bitcoin will ever exist. This number , 20,999,839.77085749 , is baked into the protocol. It is not hard to imagine a future where Bitcoins would be spread so thinly as to make 0.00000001 BTC valuable. Should further subdivisions be needed in the future, the protocol may be updated to allow for this.

I have mentioned Bitcoin addresses, the virtual “envelopes” you stash your digital coins in. But where do these addresses come from? In explaining this in a later post, the cryptographic underpinnings of Bitcoin will become apparent, but how would one acquire Bitcoins in the first place?

One may mine coins, either alone or in league with others. New Bitcoins are generated by the Bitcoin network through a process called mining. One of the specific limitations of virtual currencies that Bitcoin sought to address is that the person accepting an unspent output or a “coin” can not verify that the owner did not spend the coin twice. This is called double spending . Without the existence of a trusted third party, cases of double spending would be rampant. Bitcoin overcomes this problem by recording every transaction in a global public ledger, the “block chain”. By necessity and design, every Bitcoin transaction is appended to,  and  remains permanently viewable in, a global public ledger of past transactions called the “block chain”. In case of any doubt, or attempts at double spending, the first transaction recorded stands. Mining is simply the process of adding transaction records to this ledger or “block chain”. Those processing these transactions each receive a subisidy that is proportional to their share of the Bitcoin network’s total computing power.

The process of mining is intentionally designed to be resource intensive to ensure the steady flow of blocks of Bitcoins. The value of a block for the first 210,000 blocks or the first four years was 50BTC.  As the amount of processing power present in the network changes, the difficulty of creating new blocks and consequently Bitcoins changes. The difficulty is calculated every 2016 blocks and is based on the time taken to generate the previous 2016 blocks. Anyone can be a miner. That is anyone, with sufficient computing power and wherewithal.  Mining was the primary way to acquire Bitcoin in the early days. At the moment though, this process is so difficult as to warrant looking at other ways of obtaining coins.

Accepting Bitcoin as payment for goods sold or services rendered would be an obvious way to acquire Bitcoins. Alternatively, you may purchasing Bitcoin on the hundreds of Bitcoin  Exchanges that have sprouted online all over the world. These exchanges allow one to exchange Bitcoin for other currencies. South African Bitcoin exchange BitX are currently setting up shop in Kenya. The BitX Kenya exchange will allow you to deposit and withdraw funds via Mpesa. As mentioned earlier, at the time of writing this 1 BTC was exchanging for USD  570 or approximately KES 51,300.

In the next part I will delve into Bitcoin’s cryptographic roots; examining private keys, and  cover the secure messaging system at the core of the Bitcoin payment system.

It’s Day One of Cash Light Public Transport payments in Nairobi, Don’t Panic, here is where to get a BebaPay card

Kenya, mobile, mobile banking and m-payments, money, payments

Officially at least, cash light public transport payments in Nairobi kick off today. In reality though , very few commuters have acquired cards, and many are clueless as how the new regulations work. Either way, looks like most people got to work this morning without the need for cards.
Here are few places where you could acquire a BebaPay card.
1. Kencom
Google-Equity BebaPay promotion agents have been stalking the stage for over a year now and it’s where I acquired my first card.
You need only top up your Beba account and the card will be issued to you free of charge.
2. On board matatus
I acquired my second BebaPay card on board a Ruiru bound bus a couple of weeks ago. Uniformed BebaPay promotion girls are a common sight on a lot of matatus on some routes, you need only top up the card. I offered to top up mine with 100 bob for instance.
The BebaPay agents are helpful and will even help you open a Google (read GMail) account if you don’t have an existing one. I had them help me open a new account as I already had a card linked to my existing Google account.
3. Equity Bank Agents
Equity’s agency network is pretty widespread and is probably your best bet. In addition, this is likely where you would be topping up your card.

It’s all systems go for cash light public transport payments tomorrow, Gov’t insists

Kenya, mobile banking and m-payments, money, payments

Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli is confident that cash light public transport payments will go into effect in Nairobi tomorrow without a hitch amid widespread public uncertainty and confusion.
Questions still linger over interoperability between different cards vendors, with commuters fearing that they will end up having to acquire and carry multiple cards. Recently, commuters holding BebaPay cards were surprised to discover that their cards were no good on MOA Compliant and Umoinner matatus. This was after the Matatu Owners Association dropped Google’s BebaPay in favour of it’s own Jinice 1963 application.
The National Transport and Safety Authority promised to issue regulations for integration and interoperability to relieve commuters of the need to acquire cards from multiple vendors. Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau recently published new regulations requiring cash light public transport card vendors to seek clearance from the Central Bank of Kenya. In the Kenya Gazette notice dated 11th June, the Cabinet Secretary also substituted the use of the term “cashless public transport payments” with “cash light public transport”, apparently to avoid public confusion.

BitPesa hosting World Cup Watching Party, beta launch of service

Bitcoin, Kenya, money, payments

Local Bitcoin remittances startup BitPesa will be hosting a World Cup Watching Party at Brew Bistro on Ngong Road this evening. The event will also see the beta launch of BitPesa’s service. BitPesa will provide bitings and bitcoins to the first 50 people to show up.