Ridesharing

SoftBank-Backed OPay Pauses Ride-Hailing, Logistics Services In Nigeria

OPay, the SoftBank-backed African eCommerce and payments company, has suspended its Nigerian operation, citing the coronavirus pandemic and also a government ban, Bloomberg reports.

The operations affected include ride-hailing services ORide and OCar, and logistics service OExpress, Bloomberg reports.

The government ban happened when Lagos, the government hub of Africa’s largest economy, banned motorbike passenger service in January, according to director of marketing Osagie Alonge, Bloomberg reported. He said the bulk of drivers were hit by that ban months ago, before the pandemic.

OPay is backed by SoftBank and China’s Meituan Dianping.

However, the company is relatively nonplussed about the decision, as its Nigerian operation was a negligible portion of the company’s overall business model.

“During the pandemic, we have seen continued demand for our offline mobile money agency, and online digital payment, which remain core of our business,” the company said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.

OPay entered the Nigerian market in June of 2019. Later that year, the company raised $120 million and expanded services to Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, Bloomberg reported.

OPay was formed a year earlier than that, in 2018, as a way for mobile customers to send and receive money. The company was founded by Norwegian browser company Opera, which also operates ORide and OFood, a restaurant delivery service.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has been looking to license more payment providers, PYMNTS reported last December. The bank’s attempts were looking to increase the financial inclusion rate in the country by 20 percent, and to get it to 80 percent by the end of 2020 — though this was before the coronavirus pandemic was a worldwide reality.

The country is the most populous in Africa, with almost 200,000 people, but has been behind the rest of the country in offering mobile banking options, with only one license issued in 2019. But Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said he was committed to boosting jobs and the economy, which would include modern payments services.

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NEW PYMNTS STUDY: ACCELERATING THE REAL-TIME PAYMENTS DEMAND CURVE – NOVEMBER 2020

About: Accelerating The Real-Time Payments Demand Curve:What Banks Need To Know About What Consumers Want And Need, PYMNTS  examines consumers’ understanding of real-time payments and the methods they use for different types of payments. The report explores consumers’ interest in real-time payments and their willingness to switch to financial institutions that offer such capabilities.

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