Google Brings NFC To Kenya

I was aboard a CitiHoppa yesterday when the person seated next to me asked the conducter if he could pay via his Beba card. I didn’t really pay much attention to what followed but later on, I googled about it and found

In their own words, The Beba card is a smart card that makes it easy to pay for bus fare and helps you save money. It’s convenient because you don’t have to worry about getting change.

  1. To use your Beba card, you just tap your card on the card reader to pay.
  2. You can get a Beba card for yourself, family members or coworkers.

What really got my attention, though, was their Terms of Service. is a product offered locally by Google that utilises the much talked about Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.

NFC is not new. It is based on technologies that have been around for nearly two decades. NFC allows two devices to communicate when they are placed near each other (or when they touch each other). NFC technology is already big in Japan – you can use your NFC-enabled phone to buy train tickets in Tokyo or as a contactless payment system.

My guess is that the Beba card is an experiment by Google to try and determine whether this technology can actually work locally. If successful, in theory we could all get similar cards and use them not only for bus tickets but to pay for meals, for shopping at supermarkets, and anything else, really. Exciting, eh?

Learn more: What is NFC, and why do we care?

What do you think of this?

Additional Resources


  1. Jaffar Mohamed says:

    This is good info. I had seen the adverts about Beba but i had no idea what it was all about. It looks like this has been going on for a while and i wonder why there were no efforts to hype it up or at least run some sort of awareness campaign. Without the right awareness, the people behind it will finally conclude that “this can’t work in Kenya”. We have actually lost on a lot of good stuff this way: an innovative product or service is launched, very little is done to push it to the market and then it is shut down with the assumption that it failed to get traction. Enough of whining, i will go get my card now.

  2. Very interesting

  3. I’m going to get my card right now! Interesting.

    • Eutychus says:

      Got mine a day ago but it’s evident that the bus conductors are totally opposed to the beba idea due to its implication on their “additional earnings”. With this card the bus owner will know how much the conductor charges. so no more fare hikes, otherwise they have to take the whole amount to the bus owner.

      Today a conductor told me his phone had no charge on producing the beba card. He had charged everybody Ksh. 50, so I guess the bus owner was to get Sh.40 per person. This means the inclusion of my Ksh.50 to the system would mean no Ksh.10, for each of the 50+ passagers in the bus, for the conductor. He was so relieved when I produces a ksh.50 note to pay my fare and even told me “asante sana”.

      • Haiya, Eutychus your serious? gosh wakora everywhere in this Nairoberry of ours looking for a quick buck. The guy must be minting, a 10bob from each customer adds up to a handsome amount per day which they probably split with the driver. Ok so basically for it to be successful the conductors and drivers need to be happy with their salaries and benefits (if any) at the end of the day, the conductors are also the ones who can market for the card. Can it work with the current bus companies ama they need ‘new blood’ so to speak to run with this? Can’t wait to know how it works out, these are interesting challenges

      • Eutychus says:

        u shd try it out. it’s so convenient. you will get the card pap n free of charge. with you will forget the issue of kutafuta change. all the conductor does is hold the card next to a certain smart phone that reads the information, charges you n you get an sms intantly showing u the transaction n the balance.
        Pass by kencom n get more info from the sales ladies in green beba t-shirts

  4. Soo good to read this. Very interesting, i wish them the most sucess this is progress. Next time i’m in a hoppa i will look out for it, although i have not seen a single advert neither have i heard anyone else talk about it, this is my first time to hear about it.

  5. Brian Longwe says:

    Interesting to see more use of NFC technology in the region. Mcash and HFB Uganda launched a service few weeks ago that brings mobile, NFC, fingerprint biometric into a network-operator agnostic payment solution,-hfb-launch-of-mcash-money-in-uganda

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