Several years ago, a friend told me, the very wealthy people do not walk around with cash. Most walk with wallets full of Gold, Platinum and Silver Cards. Then i did not believe him. Now i have a Beba card
These past few weeks have proved to me that you can actually save money when using cards more than cash at most points. In my previous post about my trip to Brazil, one of the things i picked from there was the card based economy.
This week, i have been very excited about the new entrant to my card-full life, the BEBA card.
This is a transit card based on the Near field communication (NFC) technology that has been introduced by google (yes, i only got to know that when i read the terms and conditions (i am impressed)). The way this card works is, you get a free card from one of the many agents in designated locations and top up from between KES 200- KES 10,000 (a minimum of about $90) and every time you travel by the Citi Hoppa Bus, the conductor uses the NFC device to charge you. The most impressive part of this technology is its integration with M-PESA for refunds (although they need to work on the debiting too) and that then you get an SMS confirmation receipt. How about that to saving trees!
Each user has an online profile that is accessible by a gmail account to check the remaining balance and to track the transit trends. Now speak of Big Data in the making.
Unfortunately, in my excitements of being billed on my Beba Card, I still have my credit intact, there are a few things about the Beba card:
- It is also affected by the “weather changes and traffic conditions.” Matatu touts are notorious for changing travel pricing according to the weather conditions. This card unfortunately does not protect a user against these harsh conditions. The NFC device allows the tout to indicate what price they want to charge.
- The users have to register using GMail email address. Now for those stuck in the yahoo age, you know what i mean. The NFC devices are android phones, yes i took time to look around.
- The distribution and use of the NFC devices is not very well managed and as a result, I got a free ride this morning because the agent told me if the conductor does not have the device, i just dont pay. Ok, that is a plus for me as i really save money but its not a sustainable model for business. The buses that should accept a beba card have a sign that shows they do.
While in UK, I used the Oyster Card
and from my UK visit Post, a reader Posted this Useful comment:
Kenton: “The Oyster card system uses NFC technology by MIFARE, the first time I saw this system was in Hong Kong in 2001, my friend had the NFC transit chip inside his Swatch-branded watch. Amazing for its day. My favourite part of Oyster is that once I’ve registered it online and linked it to my credit card, it tops up the balance automatically whenever it gets low, so I never have to remember to top it up nor queue at the ticket office to do so – and if I lose it, I get the card replaced and keep the balance. Not sure where you saw the QR code – if on an overground train, it’s by a company called Masabi but it’s actually not a QR code, it’s a different type of 2D barcode because it’s easier to read quickly at the barriers than QR codes.”
My recommendations are to use a system like what has been implemented by the Double M buses
where they have fixed pricing for different locations, according to distance, rain or shine. Something other operators have really not tried at all to implement.
All in all, thumbs up to google and whoever brought this smart idea into the market, we are not there but we are looking at the right direction. Keep walking