Touch and Pay [TAP] launch Cowry card cashless fare collection technology on new LRMT Blue Rail Line

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

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

Founded in 2019, by Olamide Afolabi, Kabir Yabo, and Michael Oluwole, TAP was the first payment company in Nigeria to provide payment infrastructure that allowed contactless payment cards to be used on buses and ferries. The company continues its record of innovation by enabling contactless payment cards to be used on trains in Nigeria. TAP is helping by advancing financial inclusion among the mostly unbanked population with its effective processing of micropayments ranging from 10 cents to $10.

The partnership with the Lagos state government enables Lagosians to use the Cowry card across the 13 kilometres of track proposed for the project. The first phase of the track, from Marina to Mile-2, supports 200,000 daily passengers, who can now seamlessly enter and exit stations through TAP’s state-of-the-art turnstiles. Upon completion, phase two, from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, will enable up to 500,000 daily passengers  to manoeuvre between stations Rail, Bus and Ferry easily.

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, an ingenious card that is used to pay for transport digitally, first trailed on buses in 2020,  widening financial inclusion for Africa’s unbanked population. In just four years, Cowry cards have been used in six states and helped to make 3.5 million monthly contactless transactions on buses.

Riders 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. TAP’s pay-as-you-go card dramatically lowers fare evasion. Unlike riders on other lines, the 500,000 daily passengers using the Blue Rail Line, will 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.

Commenting on the project, Olamide Afolabi, Co-founder and CEO of Touch and Pay Technologies, said, “We are thrilled to be facilitating and digitising payment on behalf of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). We’ve 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.”

Since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued its cashless policy in 2012, businesses have attempted to modernise Nigeria’s payment system. TAP is helping to advance financial inclusion among the mostly unbanked population with its effective processing of micropayments, which are essential to the economy. TAP seeks to digitise the entire informal market with contactless cards and pave the road for genuine financial inclusion by assuring 99.9% reliability in cashless transaction procedures across the entire African economy.

Michael Oluwole, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer of Touch and Pay Technologies, said, “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.”

On the launch, Elias Akin, Chief Technology Officer of Touch and Pay Technologies said “We have taken all necessary steps to ensure that our users data is secure, and the technology is very easy to use because we understand the various demography of our users”

TAP was the first payment infrastructure company in Nigeria to provide payment infrastructure that allowed contactless payment cards to be used on buses and ferries.