The Interswitch Group, a Pan-African integrated digital payments and commerce company, has signed a multi-billion naira deal with Bekoz UK Ltd, a British transport ticketing company, to enhance transportation ticketing in Nigeria.
The deal, which is worth £56 million (N26 billion), will leverage British technology to keep Nigeria’s commuters on the move through the launch of three products developed exclusively for the Nigerian market – the BeCard, the BeVal and the BeReader, with scope to expand this offer throughout Africa.
The BeCard is a regular shaped card – like any bank card or the Oyster card in London. The BeVal is the device that is installed on the buses where the passenger taps on – just like on the London buses, while BeReader is the mechanism that makes all these work.
Commenting on the partnership, the Divisional CEO for Payment Processing at Interswitch, Akeem Lawal, was quoted in a statement to have highlighted the tremendous potential the partnership offers for revolutionising the transportation system with attendant impact on millions of commuters in Nigeria.
He said: “Interswitch believes that the transport system in Nigeria, Africa’s largest consumer market, is ready for innovation. This partnership is a key and timely milestone in our industry vertical markets’ focus. It is highly compatible with our vision for Interswitch Transport Solutions (Smartmove) which is essentially to progressively facilitate a multi-modal and multi-operator transportation system underpinned by best-in-class technology.
“This not only optimises available infrastructural capacity, but also remarkably improves user experience for all parties in the transport and mobility ecosystem. Our partners, Bekoz, bring their expertise and experience to bear, and we are extremely optimistic about the multiplier effects that this initiative will ultimately have on economic activities across the nation.”
Bekoz has co-created the technology with Interswitch and owns the intellectual property (IP) while the specifications and manufacturing is done by Delta Microelectronics, a global engineering company with a long and proud history of demonstrated excellence.
Speaking in Abuja, at the signing ceremony Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign Secretary announced that Bekoz would be providing the contactless transit token technology and associated electronic equipment that allows people to travel around Nigeria’s large and varied transport infrastructure, similar to London’s Oyster system. However, this would be tailored to Nigeria’s unique needs.
Hunt said: “This is a great example of British and Nigerian companies working side by side to deliver a better, more prosperous future for us all.
“Africa’s success really matters to the UK, and this deal proves that we have a huge amount of expertise that we can share to contribute to that success. As we leave the European Union, now is the time to redouble our efforts, and commit to the partnerships we have with our African friends.”
Also commenting, CEO of Bekoz, Jack Dangoor said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Interswitch to deliver a British-made fully custom transport ticketing system for Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Our technology offers an efficient and cost-effective solution for commuters and transport operators that satisfies local needs and utilises the existing infrastructure provided by Interswitch.
“The ecosystem of the Bekoz solution will provide significant retail business and job opportunities in Nigeria and beyond.”
In the UK, topping up an Oyster card is quite easy. However, factors like limited network connectivity and little or no electricity might make topping the BeCard in Nigeria more difficult. That is why the BeReader is solar powered and does not require network connection all the time. It is a low-cost device and can transform anyone into an entrepreneur as every BeReader creates a business opportunity for the operator.
Much of the manufacturing will be done in UK, and the deal is expected to create jobs in the Nigerian business and transportation environment.