It was fascinating news in 2012, when Google announced the launch of the Beba Card. Commuting was bound for a radical shift and style. But it turned not to be quite fascinating to a number of us due to some reasons I will highlight later in this article. Altogether Equity Bank fell in love with Google’s innovation and they struck a partnership deal in April this year. That gave birth to what we have today – BebaPay.
With my BebaPay card, I’m able to pay my bus fare with the card. All I need to do is make sure that the bus I board supports BebaPay (has a BebaPay sticker(s)). The card is tapped to a smartphone in the bus and my bus fare is debited from the card. Hang on; I should mention that this card is simply a debit card. You have to credit it with money before you are able to use it. It’s the money that you load that will be deducted. Assuming you spend KES 3,000 every month on bus fare, you may load that amount. It’s a good budgeting tool that will make sure you do not eat your fare.
However, that is if and only if we hold other factors constant; factors such as Matatu strikes, fare hikes and availability of BebaPay supporting buses. These inconveniences happen every day, and that’s one-way BebaPay may not be completely effective, and that’s why I mentioned that this card is not exactly fascinating.
I had an interesting experience the other night; the rest of the passengers in the bus I boarded were paying KES 80 to Kahawa West. BebaPay card holders had KES 100 deducted from their cards. The conductor simply said “hatupendi hizi vitu” (we hate this BebaPay cards). Others will tell you they don’t even have the smartphone with them and that’s how you will end up being half-embarrassed and half-screwed over.
I was fleeced in broad daylight and there was nothing I could do. I’m only waiting to exhaust the amount in the card so that I can get back to keeping bus fare in my wallet.
There are good things to say about the BebaPay card. First of all getting this card is free, and topping up is free, no transaction charges of any kind. With BebaPay, users can monitor their receipts online, or through Equity Bank’s mobile money platform, Eazzy 247.
Another amazing feature is that BebaPay card users get SMS notifications every time their card is used. That’s an easy way to track your spending right there. Amazing too about BebaPay is that you can send money to someone who’s already in a bus, a Bebapay cardholder to pay his or her fare. That means that if you have a guest stuck in town, tell them to stay calm and get into the bus as you send money to their cards. This system has a link with MPESA. That winds up everything.
Getting this card is easier than pie. You will take 20 minutes or less at an Equity bank agent. The agency will take down your ID and Gmail details create you a BebaPay account, which you will bear the password. The account enables you to get SMS notifications each time your card is used, or topped up, and to also help you monitor your card activity online.
See what side favours you. If your route does not have BebaPay Javs, forget about this card and call it a day. It will not be any useful, same to anyone who uses a train to and from work. However routes that use Double M buses, Citi Hoppa and KBS are all BebaPay supported. Get yourself one of these. Plus the conductors in these buses are organized and not as rogue and greedy like some routes we won’t mention. A number of NMOA, UmmoInner and Star Bus Javs also support this initiative but like I said, there’s something about that conductor you’ll find in there.