Safaricom today announced that it has partnered with public transport sector players to accept cashless payments through M-PESA in the ongoing battle to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. 

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The partnership will see crew from partnering public transit firms begin accepting fares through their phone numbers.

“Many businesses are seeing an increase in demand to accept M-PESA payments due to the ongoing concerns around the Coronavirus and our recent move to enable Kenyans send M-PESA transactions of KES 1,000 and below for free. Our partnership with the different public transit players brings the convenience and safety of M-PESA to this crucial sector given the widespread uptake of public transport across the country,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Chief Financial Services Officer, Safaricom.

The service has already been deployed to more than 300 City Star Shuttle vehicles in Nairobi and will be rolled out to additional players in the coming days, helping them further comply with the Government’s recommendations to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

Passengers paying their fares through the service will follow the standard procedure when sending money to another person, keying the number provided by the crew.

Among measures to help minimize the impact of Coronavirus to its customers and to help them avoid the use of cash, Safaricom recently waived off all the transaction fees for M-PESA transactions below Ksh 1,000. The telco also increased the daily M-Pesa transaction limit to Ksh.150,000 in compliance with the new CBK policies. 

The coronavirus has spread to dozens of countries across Africa within weeks, with the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that the continent should prepare for the worst. Kenya has so far recorded 15 cases, one was confirmed today. 

Countries like South Africa are among the worst affected in Africa, recording 274 cases out of 9,315 tests run so far. South Africa is actually the second most country feeling the impact of the virus behind Egypt whose figures are almost hitting 300. 

Everything is at a standstill, international flights have been banned in most countries, businesses and schools closed with most people being advised to stay and work from home. 

Countries are also banning people from staying in groups, or observe the 1-meter rule to avoid the spread of the virus. 

In Kenya, the government also urged Kenyans to go cashless. The country’s health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe also recently outlined new steps to combat the virus  14-seater matatus, for example, were urged to have eight passengers at a time, while 25-seaters to carry 15. Buses whose sitting capacity is 30 and above, on the other hand, were urged have a 60 per cent

County governments have also been urged prioritise garbage collection and cleanliness in markets while social places including bars and nightclubs should be closed at 7.30pm until further notice.t sitting capacity. 

The government also launched an online campaign dubbed #KomeshaKorona to fight against spread of coronavirus.

On Monday, the government also announced it had officially signed an agreement to “allow Google Loon balloons to access the Kenya airspace to enhance 4G network coverage.” This according to President Uhuru Kenyatta is to help Kenyans access internet as they work from home during #COVID19 crisis.

The Loon internet project was launched in Kenya two years ago but had been grounded due to what ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said was Kenya’s bureaucracy process.

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