Opera Mini’s Maker Is Joining Nigeria’s Bike-Hailing Fast Lane

By  |  May 27, 2019

Today is the official unveiling date of Opera Software AS‘ new venture, a motorbike-hailing service called ORide, joining an already busy ridesharing industry in Africa, the same of which has been in the thick of both financial and technical developments in the last few months.

Opera Mini was one of the first browsers Nigerians, and other Africans used to access to the web, before the advent of competitors such as UC Browser, Firefox and Google Chrome. The Norwegian company has been teasing the next product lined up for release in its quest to expand in the most populous black nation.

The conglomerate, in May 2018, launched its first mobile payment service in the West African country. Dubbed Opera Pay (OPay for short), the product was initially operated by Nigeria’s Telnet Group as PayCom, a company which Opera acquired a massive part of and rebranded to OPay.

The mobile payment solution allows users pay utility bills, purchase airtime and mobile data, top online accounts and do in-and-out transactions, all from a mobile app. OPay operates as a bank, and that helps users send and receive money to and from any Nigerian bank directly within the app.

It is on the backs of this seemingly successful fintech product that the Opera company is launching its own fleet of Okada rides in Nigeria. In bid to prepare users for this service, the firm has introduced an ORide section to the OPay app. It is reported that when users click on the ORide option, they are given a list of coupons to redeem to get free rides.

March 2017, Opera made known its intentions to take on more markets. “We are definitely interested in more markets. There’s nothing preventing us from initiating an extension at any time,” Jan Standal, head of global marketing and communications, said. Around the same period, the company announced a USD 100 Mn fund telescoped at the digital potential of Africa.

Two months after, Opera pinpointed that up to USD 40 Mn of the initial bulk of investment is going to be focused on Nigeria. In bid to transform itself into the digital continent, the investment was channelled towards the rise of internet adoption in Nigeria.

If it’s the development of digital services in Nigeria – or perhaps, more precisely, OPay – then ORide could very well have about USD 40 Mn at its disposal, especially as ORide is somewhat an offshoot of the Opera Pay.

Monday, the Vice President, Africa,  previously said that for the past five years, the Opera Mini browser had been a major facilitator in bringing more than half of Africa’s Internet population online by featuring tools for lowering data costs.

Along this line, disclosed that recently, the company celebrated 100 million monthly users in Africa and readying to focus on making the next generation of web browsers to cater to the needs of African Internet users.

Oride is entering a market that is seemingly already choked up with players. In retrospect, Uganda’s bike-hailing startup secured a significant investment with which it is currently finalizing plans to make entry into Nigeria, the most populated country on the continent.

Last week, the West African country’s best-known Okada ride service provider, GoKada, raised USD 5.3 Mn to double down on its operations.

The company said in this interview that it does not have any plan to expand outside Nigeria, and that could mean that GoKada is going to channel all its money, time and technicality to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the country.

In general, Africa’s motorcycle taxi market is blossoming into a huge subsector in the continent’s e-transport startup landscape. Many two-wheeled startups are vying to harness and digitize. The market is expected to be worth USD 9 Bn by 2021, according to a Teschi report.

Bearing in mind that ORide is also taking on Max and other bike-hailing starters, there’s, however, an essence to note that it comes on the heels of its fintech solution – OPay.

So, it’s not just a ride-hailing service, but a dual initiative breaking into Nigeria (presumably Lagos) with what could be the biggest funding ever seen in the industry at large.

OPay is in some regards similar to Tencent’s WeChat. For now, it offers bike hailing, payment service and a wallet system, which also makes it one of the most significant fintech solutions in Nigeria.

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