Travelling through Costa Rica in bus is always an experience. First you’ve got to figure out the bus stop location, and wonder when and if your bus will arive. Then you wait in line for your turn to pay, sifting through your wallet or pockets for coins. Sometimes you only have a ₡5,000 bill, and the driver has no change.
“Everyone in the country travels on bus, but no one knows how,” Chepex creator Alan Schwarz told The Tico Times. “In this country we really need an electronic payment system. I always wanted to help a lot of people, not just a few, so I thought it would be a great opportunity.”
After a year of working on this project and developing technology that would be simple to use, Chepex offers a mobile application that, according to Schwarz, would be profitable and eco-friendly.
“We came up with this technology that has GPS, cameras, encryption, security, organization of the credit card data, free WiFi, and an identity card scanner,” Schwarz said. The device is called a Chepito; to manufacture it, Chepex has acquired a 3D printer. Schwarz plans to set up 50 prototypes throughout the country.
“The Chepito has an ID card scanner. The idea is that senior citizens can put in their ID card by themselves. It also has a QR code reader and another code reader for cellphones that don’t have NFC terminals in order for the payment to be done offline,” Schwarz said. Users would use their phones rather than cash; the system allows them to preset payment amounts for even greater effectiveness.
Schwarz’ ultimate goal is to be the app of choice for both Costa Ricans and tourists looking for bus stops and routes, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and many more services.
To be able to set up the first 50 Chepitos, Chepex has launched a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.