Have you ever entered a matatu in Nairobi or any other town in Kenya and the first thing you meet with is a poster with words such as "M-Pesa payment is not allowed," or "Hakuna kulipa na M-pesa hapa" or "Hii gari si ya Safaricom."
Have you ever entered a matatu in Nairobi or any other town in Kenya and the first thing you meet with is a poster with words such as “M-Pesa payment is not allowed,” or “Hakuna kulipa na M-pesa hapa” or “Hii gari si ya Safaricom.”
In fact, the matatu person will be very furious if you insist on wanting to pay for your bus fare using M-Pesa. Some will literally insult and call you names. Some will go to the extreme of throwing you out of their vehicle or not letting you in at all.
What the reason behind this open refusal by the matatu sector to embrace the use of digital payment? The world is changing. Right? And it is expected that every sector should embrace technology. Is the matatu sector different? Let us find out.
Read More: The Tale Of Kenya’s Colorful Matatu Culture
Most matatus in Nairobi are totally against paying with M-Pesa and they make their stand known in writing. Like “No M-Pesa Allowed” or “Hakuna kulipa na M-Pesa”. What is the reason behind this resistance? 🤔
— Juma G 🇰🇪 (@jumaf3) June 10, 2021
Here are reasons why:
Ask any matatu operator and they will tell you “Ogopa wakenya.” Kenyans have a habit of reversing a payment as soon as they alight from a matatu. They pay Ksh 100 for fare and reverse as soon as they alight. Basically, they would have traveled for free.
“A Kenyan can reverse as little as Ksh 50. What will I tell my boss in the evening if I do not hit the target? That I had converted his vehicle into a charity wagon?” asked one operator.
Chai ya polisi
Corruption within the matatu sector is on another level. It is like a tax that operators have to pay to some rogue traffic officers in order to operate. These amounts are often in small denominations such as Ksh 100 or 50. Now, you are not going to tell a hungry police officer that you want to send a bribe of Ksh 50 to his M-Pesa number.
Read More: Matatus To Be Kicked Out Of The Nairobi CBD
Of course, using of M-Pesa to receive payments creates accountability. With this, one would expect to be widely used. But no. In this sector, the use of M-Pesa cuts off so many levels of “cash flow” that should benefit others not owners of the vehicle.
Every crew is given a target by the owner as the minimum amount at the end of the day. Anything above is taken by the crew. With all the money going to the owner, how will the crew benefit and have their cut? They cannot just take it.
Kenyans have a habit of paying for bus fare without “Pesa ya kutoa.” This means that the operator has to incur withdrawal charges. At the end of the day, this will mean that he/she has carried a certain section of passengers with less than the set fare.
This sounds funny but was cited as the main reason why most operators in matatus do not accept M-Pesa payment. Most of them have a Fuliza (an overdraft from Safaricom). This means that the amount is deducted as soon as it paid.