Is The Freebie Fest Now Over? OPay Risks Losing Users As Angry Reactions Trail New 1% Charge

By  |  November 6, 2019

Over the last 24 hours, OPay may have gone from the people’s darling to public enemy No.1.

Since the Opera-backed company entered Nigeria and armed itself with a war chest of USD 50 Mn, it has endeared itself to millions of Nigerians mostly through offers pegged at ridiculously low prices.

Through its bike-hailing service, ORide, and its food delivery service, OFood, it has moved people from one end of a city to another and delivered mouth-watering meals at the doorstep of customers for next to nothing — we are talking about good food at prices as low as NGN 10.00.

Also, with OPay charging just NGN 10.00 for bank transfers of any amount, it became something of a go-to app for all kinds of stuff in such a short time.

For the sake of clarity, people preferred using the OPay app to transfer funds to bank accounts because of how cheap it was. It costs NGN 50.00 on average to do an inter-bank funds transfer using the usual banking platforms in Nigeria. But on the OPay app, it used to be just NGN 10.00.

That is, one just needs to fund their OPay mobile wallet from their bank account at zero cost. And from that OPay wallet, funds could be transferred to any Nigerian bank account at a charge of just NGN 10.00.

Compared to the usual NGN 50.00 charged when using a banking app or a USSD platform, it was quite the bargain. And it was that insanely low transfer fee that attracted many users. OPay for bank transfers, thus, became a no-brainer.

But now, it’s more like a non-starter. OPay now stands the risk of losing most of the users it has gained after the platform implemented some changes that could be thought of as ill-advised, even though necessary.

Yesterday, things took a rather awkward turn when OPay thought it wise to, first, crank up its transfer fees to 2 percent of the amount being transferred without alerting users.

Due to that, users who had no idea any such measure had been implemented were both shocked and infuriated to discover that they were being charged as much as NGN 220.00 for a transfer of just NGN 11 K.

The floodgates of complaints soon opened and users were lambasting OPay for luring them in with incredibly low charges and then siphoning their funds through insanely high charges without as much as a prior notification.

OPay, apparently regretful of the screw-up, took to its Twitter account to apologise to users who by now were seething with fury and committed to ditching the app.

After apologising for increasing its transfer fees without alerting users beforehand, OPay went ahead to propose something could well be the coup de grace to its platform.

Opay scrapped the 2 percent charge while stating that it would now charge users NGN 45.00 for the first bank transfer of the day (NGN 20 K max) and then, 1 percent of the amount being charged for subsequent transfers during the day.

This only served to further incense users who now feel somewhat swindled since transferring funds via the OPay app is now a lot more expensive than what it would cost to do so via the usual banking apps.

To put things into perspective, OPay’s new charges mean that one may be charged as much as NGN 1 K for a transfer of NGN 100 K. The usual banking channels will cost NGN 50.00 on average.

With the new move, OPay seems to have now lost the appeal it had over traditional banking channels and scores of aggrieved users are abandoning the platform while going back to the initial funds’ transfer mediums they had initially ditched because of OPay.

In an emailed response to TechCabal, OPay’s Country Manager, Iniabasi Akpan, did not say exactly why it increased the transaction fee. But it is hoping that the move will lead to more financial activity within the OPay ecosystem. “Peer-to-peer transactions do not attract any fees within the OPay app,” he said.

He added: “Evidently, with the new policy, users are encouraged to do more transfers and payments within the app.”

On whether this move marks the end, or rather, the beginning of the end of the many bonuses and subsidies that are associated with OPay and its verticals, Akpan maintained that business will continue as usual.

For now, though, OPay will have to ride out the storm of the mass exodus that appears to be imminent. And it would be a storm they created.

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