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Touch and Pay deploys contactless fare payment for Lagos rail line

24 Jan 2023, 01:16 pm
Financial Nigeria
Touch and Pay deploys contactless fare payment for Lagos rail line

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500,000 Lagos commuters to benefit as Nigerian startup becomes first local company to unify rail, bus, and ferry via contactless cards.

TAP co-founders Olamide Afolabi, Kabir Yabo, and Michael Oluwole

Touch and Pay Technologies (TAP), a Nigerian fintech company and processor of micro-transactions, today announced that rail passengers across Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, can access the newly launched Blue Rail Line using TAP’s contactless Cowry card.

In a statement sent to Financial Nigeria, TAP said riders would only have to touch their Cowry cards against the tempered glass-protected state-of-the-art turnstile validators, which use Near-field communication (NFC) technology, to enable communication between cards and the automated collection points. According to the statement, TAP's pay-as-you-go card dramatically lowers fare evasion, and riders would not have to endure the old, arduous procedure of having their tickets manually examined. Turnstiles will operate at Alaba, Marina, National Theatre, Mile 2, and Orile.

The first phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, from Marina to Mile-2, supports 200,000 daily passengers, who can now seamlessly enter and exit the stations with their Cowry card. Upon completion of the phase two of the rail project, from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, it is projected to enable up to 500,000 daily passengers.

“We are thrilled to be facilitating and digitising payment on behalf of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA),” said Olamide Afolabi, Co-founder and CEO of Touch and Pay Technologies. “We've deployed our NFC payment solutions on BRT buses, ferries, and now trains.”

Afolabi said TAP’s contactless payment solutions have been a huge success, creating a 21st century solution for today’s passengers. He said train fares typically worked on low-value cash transactions, while most electronic cards don’t allow for payment below the equivalent of $10, which was problematic for many passengers.

“Our Cowry card, which enables microtransactions between 10 cents and $10, bridges this gap. People can now use a digital and modern method to pay for their train journeys without carrying huge amounts of cash. We are optimistic that even more passengers will discover the benefits of this fast, yet reliable technology, which unifies transportation in Lagos - for the first time,” said Afolabi.

TAP was co-founded by the trio of Olamide Afolabi, Kabir Yabo, and Michael Oluwole in 2019. The statement said TAP is the first payment company in Nigeria to provide payment infrastructure that allowed contactless payment cards to be used on buses and ferries.

In 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued its cashless policy. Many fintechs have since developed solutions to help modernise the country's payment system. And TAP says its solution is helping to advance financial inclusion among the mostly unbanked population with its effective processing of micropayments, which is essential for the country’s vast number of operators in its informal economy. TAP says it seeks to digitise the entire informal market with contactless cards and pave the way for genuine financial inclusion by assuring 99.9% reliability in cashless transaction procedures across the entire African economy.

In Nigeria, 64 million adults don’t have access to banks. This limits people’s ability to withdraw cash for use on public transportation. To solve this problem, TAP created the Cowry card first trailed on buses in 2020. The card is now in use in six states, helping to make 3.5 million monthly contactless transactions on buses.

“Payment is a social issue, not a technological one, which is why solutions to solve transit payment issues are a priority for us,” said Michael Oluwole, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer of Touch and Pay Technologies. “In the past, foreign companies were tasked with solving our local transportation problems. We’re pleased that we are the first local company to deliver this unifying solution.”

On the solution launch for the Blue rail Line, Elias Akin, Chief Technology Officer of Touch and Pay Technologies said the company has taken all necessary steps to ensure that users data on its platform is secure and that the technology is very easy to use.

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