All other things being equal, Opera Software AS’ payment and transportation startup in Nigeria, OPay could be launching OTrike in Kano.
As the name implies, OTrike is a tricycle hailing startup that is targeting Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city by population and the largest commercial hub in the Northern region of Nigeria.
Should the launch finally come to pass by next month, the move could give OPay a coveted position as the third largest tech-driven transportation startup in Nigeria, thereby joining the likes of Uber Technologies Inc local unit and European ride-hailing startup, Bolt in a race to capture the Nigerian market.
The launch of OTrike in Kano would be coming less than two months after OPay launched ORide, its motorcycle hailing services across Lagos and Ibadan, the second-largest commercial hub in Nigeria’s Southwest region.
There are various reasons it is choosing to go with tricycles in Kano and it is very strategic, to say the least. First is the fact that the Kano state government has in recent years deemphasize the use of motorcycles for road transport while also supporting local youths with financing for tricycles. Across Kano, tricycles have almost overtaken taxis.
Also, Kano is also not notorious for the kinds of ‘hellish’ traffic gridlock that are wired into the core of Lagos. This makes tricycles, a safer, convenient and cost-effective means of moving around the large city and also more profitable source employment for its riders.
OPay is said to be finalising finishing touches for the service that will see it having deeper access and presence ahead of its peers including Gokada, former Taxify, now Bolt and also Uber Technologies Inc, the world’s largest ride-hailing company that is also eyeing bike-hailing business in Nigeria.
According to people with the knowledge of the matter, OTrike will be launching across the city via a franchising arrangement but the service will be offered via the OPay app. Opera’s OPay allows its users to pay bills, order food as well as play games with betting companies. Analysts are of the opinion that the company’s strategy is to use ORide and OTrike as a means of pulling a huge number of users on the platform under an ecosystem that enables them to do much more and make money for the company.
It is not yet clear if OPay would launch OTrike across other cities of Nigeria, but there are higher probabilities for this. Earlier this month, we reported that OPay raised about $50 million for its transportation business including ORide in the bid to scale the business.
The Nigerian tech-driven transportation startup scene is also poised for an interesting time ahead.
A few weeks ago, we reported that Bolt, a ride-hailing startup competing head-on with Uber has launched its bike-hailing business in Ibadan to compete with ORide. While Gokada has not entered Ibadan, the company announced in the earlier part of the second quarter that it raised about $5.3 million to scale its motorcycle services. However, their indications that it plans to enter into water transportation.
Gokada announced that its ferry service called GBoats will be launching in Lagos by 2020 (next year). While OPay has not announced its plan to compete in the space, there are indications that it could enter the ring to slug it out in a segment that is less competitive with many fringe players who are not driven by technology, data or superior customer service.
However, Gokada will be facing a bigger player in the boat service side of things. Last month, we reported that Uber will also be launching its ferry service within 2020, a period when analysts said the segment could witness more investment than ever and also more regulations from authorities.
It is yet to be seen the strategy to be deployed by Uber and Bolt to tame the surging influence of OPay across Nigeria. While they have both stuck to Lagos and Abuja for their ride-hailing services (with the exception of Bolt doing bike-hailing in Ibadan), OPay seems to be bold in breaking down its approach to tech-driven transportation services by going with the most expedient means of transportation in each city it enters.