Uber Africa Launches Uber Cash with Nigeria’s Flutterwave

Uber Cash

  • Uber is deploying its digital wallet feature, Uber Cash, in Sub-Saharan Africa via a partnership with San Francisco based, Nigerian founded fintech firm Flutterwave.
  • Uber Cash in Africa will also receive transfers from Flutterwave’s Barter payment app, which was launched with Visa in 2019.
  • Uber has operated in Africa since 2015 and has continued to adapt to the dynamics of the local market including global and local competition, and the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Uber is deploying its digital wallet feature, Uber Cash, in Sub-Saharan Africa via a collaboration with San Francisco based, Nigerian founded fintech firm Flutterwave.

The partnership will enable riders to use the multitude of payment processing partners active on the Pan-African network of Flutterwave to fund Uber wallets.

Flutterwave operates as a B2B payment gateway network that allows clients to access its APIs and customize payment applications.

According to Alon Lits, Uber’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Uber Cash will go live this week and next for Uber’s ride-hail operations in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tanzania.

“Depending on the country, you’ve got 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 also receive transfers from Flutterwave’s Barter payment app, which was launched with Visa in 2019.

The move could increase Uber’s ride traffic in Africa by accelerating the volume of funds sent to digital wallets and reducing friction in the payment process.

Uber still accepts cash on the continent which has one of the largest unbanked populations in the world but has made some progress in financial inclusion through mobile money.

Uber has operated in Africa since 2015 and has continued to adapt to the dynamics of the local market including global and local competition and, more recently, COVID-19. GM Alon Lits of the company spoke with TechCrunch about updates including EV opportunities and overcoming the coronavirus outbreak in Africa.

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Uber continued to work through the pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a few exceptions. “The only places we ceased operations was where there were government directives,” Lits said. That included Uganda and Lagos, Nigeria.

Although he was unable to share data, Lits acknowledged that the pandemic had resulted in a significant reduction in Uber’s Africa business, in line with the 70% drop in global ride volume reported in March by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

“You can imagine in markets where we were not allowed to operate revenues obviously go to zero,” said Lits.

Like the wider tech ecosystem in Africa, Uber has adjusted its business to the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa, which hit hardest in March and April and led to lockdowns in key economies including Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Lits stressed some unique practices on how to make people feel comfortable about ride-hailing in a coronavirus environment. In line with Uber’s global policy, wearing masks in Africa is compulsory for riders and drivers.

“We’re actually leveraging facial recognition technology to check that drivers are wearing masks before they go,” said Lits. Uber Africa is also experimenting with impact safe, plastic dividers for its cars in Kenya and Nigeria.

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