Fintech

Lagos’ Blue Rail Line Accepts Contactless Payments for the Unbanked

NFC-powered cashless fare collection technology by Nigerian fintech Touch and Pay Technologies (TAP) can now be used on Lagos’ new mass transit ‘Blue Rail Line’.

The Blue Line project in Nigeria is a 27km long rail route designed to run from Okokomaiko, in Western Lagos, eastward to Marina. Currently, the first phase of the route is complete, covering a distance of 13km. Payment to use the rail service is powered by Tap’s turnstiles and cards. The payment company enables an estimated 200,000 banked and unbanked passengers to access the train.

The payment service has been enabled thanks to a partnership with the Lagos state government. Once completed, the second phase of the track, connecting Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, will enable up to 500,000 passengers to manoeuvre between stations per day.

TAP aims to support financial inclusion, with a specific focus on Nigeria’s unbanked population. The Nigerian fintech is able to process micropayments ranging from 10 cents to $10. Because most electronic cards don’t allow payments below $10, the service aims to service the gap for the unbanked.

Up to 64 million adults in Nigeria do not have access to traditional banks. Those that are unbanked are therefore unable to withdraw cash for use of public transportation. TAP’s Cowry card aims to solve this issue to ensure everyone is able to access transportation across the country.

Cowry card users can tap the pay-as-you-go card against tempered glass-protected turnstile validators for use on the Blue Rail Line. The solution also looks to significantly lower fare evasion in the region. Turnstiles also reduce the need for tickets to be manually examined, speeding up the transportation service.

The Central Bank of Nigeria issued its cashless policy in 2012, encouraging businesses to modernise the country’s payment systems. As a result, TAP explained that it aims to digitise the entire informal market with contactless cards.

‘Payment is a social issue, not a technological one’
Afolabi Olamide, Nigeria Lagos Blue Rail
Olamide Afolabi, co-founder and CEO of Touch and Pay Technologies

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

“Our contactless payment solutions have been a huge success. We have created a 21st-century solution for today’s passengers. Up until now, train fares typically worked on low-value cash transactions, whereas most electronic cards don’t allow for payment below $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.”

Michael Oluwole, co-founder and chief growth officer of TAP, also discussed the issue of financial inclusion. He explained: “Payment is a social issue, not a technological one, which is why solutions to solve transit payment issues are a priority for us. 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.”

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