Opera Raises $120M To Expand In Africa, Launches Uber Competitor In Nigeria

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Uber Competitor
Nigerian payments platform OPay, owned by Opera, is launching OCar, a ride-hailing app to compete with Bolt and Uber. OPay’s ride-hailing service OCar has launched in Nigeria. Image: OPay

November has been a busy month for Norwegian mobile browser firm Opera‘s fintech firm OPay, which has raised a $120 million Series B round of funding.

Opera is publicly listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The majority of ownership and control belongs to Chinese businessman Zhou Yahui.

Based in Nigeria, OPay is a mobile app-based payments platform. The company plans to use the new investment to expand its payment products into other African countries including Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, according to a press release.

OPay is also launching OCar, a taxi-hailing competitor to Uber and Bolt in the Nigerian market.

Uber has been operating its ride-hailing service in Nigeria since July 2014 but is only present in the major cities of Abuja and Lagos. By comparison, OCar plans to offer ride-sharing services in eight Nigerian cities including Uber’s main markets.

Bolt, previously Taxify, is another Uber competitor, operating in nine Nigerian cities. In May 2019, Estonia-based Bolt started operating in two new Nigerian cities — Calabar and Uyo.

Building a super app

OCar is the latest offering to be added to OPay’s mobile app ecosystem. Opay also offers food delivery (OFood) motorcycle-hailing (ORide), classifieds (OList), three-wheelers (OTrike), and bus-hailing (OBus) services.

With all of those services accessible on the OPay mobile app, the company is creating a super app — many apps within an umbrella app.

This strategy mirrors OPay’s Chinese investor, Meituan-Dianping, a Chinese super app that lets customers do everything from ordering food or booking hotels to buying movie tickets, Techcabal reports.

Super apps have been shown to improve user retention by capturing the interest of a user through the service they are most interested in before impressing them with other offerings within the same app.

For example, a person who downloads the mobile app for the ride-hailing service could then discover the taxi-hailing and food delivery offerings through the app.

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OPay’s mobile platform allows users to make money transfers, pay for goods, bills and other daily services such as grocery delivery and transportation, as well as mobile airtime purchases. 

Based in Lagos, OPay launched in August 2018 and raised a $50 million Series A investment in July 2019 that allowed it to scale motorcycle ride-hailing firm, ORide, and food delivery service, OFood.

In Nigeria alone, more than 140,000 active agents have signed up to offer OPay’s mobile money services to users through brick and mortar stores, kiosks and informal street vendors. OPay claims to have daily transaction volumes in excess of $10 million.

OPay’s latest $120 million investment included participation from Beijing-based social e-commerce platform Meituan-Dianping, Boston-based investment firm IDG Capital, the Chinese arm of California-based VC firm Sequoia Capital, Chinese emerging markets-focused VC firm Source Code Capital, and Singapore-based VC firm focused on early-stage tech companies GSR Ventures.

Other investors included Beijing-based venture capital firm GaoRong, South Korea-based corporate venture capital arm of SoftBank Group, Softbank Ventures Asia, Chinese investment firm Bertelsmann Asia Investments, and Silicon Valley-based VC firm Redpoint Ventures, which has offices in China and Brazil.

Launched in the beta phase, OCar will operate both as a ride-hailing and ride-sharing service in eight Nigerian cities including Lagos, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Benin, Kaduna, Abeokuta, and Ibadan, according to Techpoint.

The ride-hailing service can be accessed through OPay’s mobile app — along with the other services under OPay’s umbrella.

The naming convention associated with OPay and its businesses including OCar, OFood, and ORide has been the subject of many lighthearted tweets from Nigerians on Twitter.

These Twitter users have had fun at the mobile money firm’s expense with suggestions for new business ideas that OPay should pursue.