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Lagos State BRT Bus Cowry Card and Mobile App: Everything You Need To Know

The cowry card system is an automated fare collection system built indigenously by Touch and Pay technologies limited to reduce cash transactions in transport operations. The travel card is an initiative of Lagos State innovation for transportation transactions is an e-ticketing system used by Lagos state travel management both on land, sea and rail. The use of Cowry card commenced on on February 1 2021 across various routes in Lagos state replaced the cash system previously used by commuters. While the launch of cowry card for water transportation, LAGFerry took place on the 22nd of June.

Paying for your transport is now easy with the Lagos state Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Cowry card. I have used both the card and mobile app to make payments for my rides for different routes in Lagos state and this article will explain everything you need to know about Lagos state Cowry card, how to purchase, using the mobile app, and what happens if your card gets stolen.

Where Commuters can buy the Lagos State Travel Card

Cowry card is available for purchase form any bus terminal agent across Lagos state. You can get your cowry card at any BRT bus terminal from as low as 200 naira for the paper card and 400 naira for the plastic card. For registration of your card, name and phone number will be required. After that you are issued a new card and any amount can be topped up instantly.

How to fund your Cowry Card and Cowry Online Wallet

Cowry card is the physical card while the cowry online wallet is the virtual card found on the mobile app.

Funding your Card

  • To fund your card, meet any top up agent at any of the bus terminals or corridors.
  • You can use the self-service validators at the bus terminal to find your card and make transfer from your online wallet to your physical card

Funding your Online Wallet from Cowry App

  • Download the Cowry app from Google play store and register it with the same mobile number used while registering for the physical card.
  • Login to the app and click on Top-up wallet icon, copy the account details and make the deposit
  • Or just dial *Bankcode*000*827+CustomerID+Amount# e.g using first bank to top up 1,000 naira; dial *894*000*827+08090809080+1000#

Note: Customer ID is the phone number used to register or your Cowry card or app.

Download the cowry app using the link here

How to use the BRT Cowry Card

  • Wait for the the next bus to your destination and make sure you have enough balance for the trip
  • Tap your card on the self service machine following the direction as seen on the card
  • The fare of the trip is deducted and a green colour notification displayed on the screen is accompanied with a voice prompt
  • Your balance is also shown on the screen after fare deduction
  • You have now paid and can proceed to enjoy your ride

How to use the Cowry App

  • Register with your phone number then username, password and 4 digit pin
  • Login to your mobile app and scan the QR barcode as seen by the entrance window of the bus
  • If you are unable to scan then input the bus code as seen into the app manually
  • Generate QR and go to the self service terminal to scan and approve trip payment
  • You will get a green colour notification and voice prompt to show that you have paid successfully and can proceed to board the bus.

How to use the self service Validator at Bus Terminal

For those using the app, you either Load your card via bank transfer or get money transferred to your card from another user. The money can only be seen on the Cowry online wallet app and to move the money to your physical card you need to follow the steps below using the self service validator which is available at the bus terminal:

Cowry card self service machine for boarding
  1. Visit a self service terminal
  2. Click on check balance and tap, it shows your card balance
  3. Click on transfer
  4. Enter the last four digits of your phone number
  5. Tap your cowry card on the terminal and wait for a notification to confirm
  6. Click on confirm

The self service terminal can also be used to check balance on your cowry card.

Benefits of Lagos State Travel Card

  • No need to exchange and carry cash limiting the spread of Covid-19
  • Accepted by Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), Lagos State Ferry Services and train
  • Save time, promotes accountability and seamless travel experience by commuters
  • During rainfall, public transport drivers usually called danfo double transportation fare prices but the price remains the same while using the Cowry card

Benefits of Lagos State Cowry Mobile App

  • The free app for android users lets you top-up, check your balance and bus transactions, transfers and top up.
  • View your contactless journey history
  • Flexible payment options. You can always use the virtual card to make payment for your rides when the physical is not available
  • Check your pay as you go to balance
  • Share card credit among your friends and family

Limitations of the Cowry Card and App

  • Agents defrauding commuters using the cowry card
  • Deducting more than the actual fare on my cowry card after tapping at the point of entry
  • Money topped up using the app can only be used when transferred to the card or scanning the barcode beside the bus
  • Using the app to scan the barcode beside the bus didn’t work efficiently and I had to use the manual method of typing the bus code
  • No confirmation SMS received to notify commuters after boarding
  • The app is not iOS-supported which means it is available for only android users. We are still expecting the Apple version of the app.
  • Other severe malfunction and various security problems

Frequently asked Questions by Commuters

  1. What if my cowry card gets lost or stolen? The money on the card can be retrieved when you get a new card. The balance on the lost card will be transferred to the new card.
  2. Does the card expires? Lagos state travel card doesn’t expire but for damaged card you can purchase a new one.

Final thoughts

Implementing a cashless system at first is a problem because a new technologies and ways of doing things is adopted. But cowry card e-ticketing system is here to stay and many more commuters are subscribing to the service.

For the app to be relevant I would advice it should be connected with the card with more improvement and upgrades for commuters to enjoy a seamless travel experience. From the App Store reviews, it shows how unhappy commuters are and I also experienced so many problems while using the app.

Finally, iOS version need to be released as soon as possible or a web app which can serve as an alternative.

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