Uber San Francisco-based – founded by Nigerians – is launching its Uber Cash digital wallet facility in Sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership with fintech firm Flutterwave.
This arrangement will allow riders to top Uber wallets using Flutterwave’s dozens of remittance partners operating on the Pan-African network.
Flutterwave The B2B payment gateway operates as a network that allows customers to tap their APIs and customize payment applications.
Uber Cash will go live this week and for Uber’s Ride-Ola operations in South Africa, Kenya. Uber’s general manager for Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tanzania – Sub-Saharan Africa according to Alon Lits.
“Depending on the country, you have different top up methods available. For example in Nigeria you can use your Verve card or Mobile Money. In Kenya, you can use M-Pesa and EFT and in South Africa You can top up with EFT, ”Lits said.
Uber Cash in Africa will accept transfers from Flutterwave’s barter payment app launched with Visa in 2019.
The move could increase Africa’s ridership traffic by increasing the amount of funds sent to digital wallets in Africa and reducing friction in the payment process.
Uber still accepts cash on the continent – which has one of the world’s largest populous populations – but has made progress on financial inclusion through mobile money.
Update on uber africa
Uber has been in Africa since 2015 and has continued to adapt to global and local competition and, more recently, local market dynamics including COVID-19. The company’s GM Alon Lits spoke to TipsClear on the update – including EV possibilities – and the outbreak of coronavirus in Africa.
Uber in sub-Saharan Africa continued to run through epidemics with few exceptions. “Only the places where we stopped operations where the government had instructions,” Lits said. Which included Uganda and Lagos, Nigeria.
While he cannot share the data, Lits admitted that Uber’s business in Africa has declined significantly through the epidemic, with a 70% drop in global ride volume Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Disclosed in march
“You can imagine in markets where we were not allowed to conduct revenue, obviously go to zero”, Lits said.
Like Africa’s broader technological ecosystem, Uber has adapted its business to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Africa, which hit hardest in March and April and led to lockdowns in major economies, such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa did.
In order to make people in the coronovirus world feel safe about ride-hailing, Lits highlighted some specific practices. According to Uber’s global policy, it is mandatory for riders and drivers to wear masks in Africa.
“We’re really taking advantage of facial recognition technology to see that drivers are wearing masks before they leave,” Lits said. Uber Africa is experimenting with Impact Safe, plastic dividers for its cars in Kenya and Nigeria.
In Africa, Uber has continued to expand its services and experimented with things the company does not do in any of the major markets. The first was allowing cash payments in 2016 – something Uber hopes will help reduce Uber cash starts.
Along with rival Bolt, Uber added Ride-Ola products from the motorcycle and three-wheeled tuk-tuk taxi markets in Africa.
Uber went into delivery in Africa with Uber Eats, and recently started medical supplies in South Africa through a partnership with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In addition to global rivals, as Bolt, Uber faces local competition as Africa’s mobility sector becomes the center of attraction for VCs and startups.
Some trends worth tracking will be a possible expansion of Uber Ethiopia and move towards EV development in Africa.
On Ethiopia, the country has a nascent technology scene with the strongest demographic and economic thesis – Africa’s second-largest population and seventh-largest economy – to become the continent’s next digital hotspot.
Ethiopia also has a Riding Ride-Hell industry, with Local Mobility Ventures Ride and Zyrid. Uber does not mention (that we know) no intention of moving to the East African country. But if it does, it will serve as a strong indicator of the company’s commitment to remaining a mobility player in Africa.
In relation to electric, there has been a movement on the continent in the last year towards developing EVs for ride-haul and distribution use.
In 2019, Nigerian mobility startup MAX.ng raised a round of a $ 7 million series supported by Yamaha, a portion of which was dedicated to pilot e-motorcycles powered by renewable energy.
Last year the Rwandan government established a national plan to phase out gas motorcycle taxis for e-motos, which is working in partnership with EV startup Ampersand.
And in May, Via Africa – a Ride-Ola mobility venture founded by Mogul Strive Masiwa – launched an electric taxi service and solar charge network in Zimbabwe. Vaya is planning to expand the program Continent and e-moto are searching for passenger and distribution products.
When Uber moves towards power in Africa, it may start with two or three wheel transit.
Uber’s Sub-Saharan Africa GM Alon Lits said, “It’s something we’re seeing in South Africa … nothing we’ve launched so far, but it’s a conversation.”
He said that one of the challenges of such electric models on the continent is the lack of strong charging infrastructure.
Still, if Uber enters that place – along with Via and others – emissions-free ride-hail and EVs roaming around African cities may soon become a reality.