Uber came into the taxi business with a bang, catching the old taxi operators flat-footed. It has been hailed as the most convenient, efficient and cheaper alternative. Its fair share of controversy cannot be ignored- everywhere it has been launched there have been uproars from the traditional taxi operators as they are seen as a threat to the latter’s business. This isn’t the first time Safaricom has tried to leave it’s telecommunications docket following its attempt to enter the TV market with the Safaricom Big Box decoder.
Well, disrupting the status quo was one thing and it seems the stiff opposition from the taxi operators is not the only thing Uber needs to worry about.
The stage is set for another taxi showdown and this time round it will be hard to pick sides. Safaricom, the biggest telecoms company in Kenya, is set to launch its own taxi service that is going to give Uber a run for their money. Judging by their past successes in the launch of M-PESA and M-KOPA among others I see Safaricom scoring big on this one.
While speaking to Reuters the other day, the company’s CEO Mr. Bob Collymore said that they decided to venture into the lucrative taxi business as a new source for their revenues. Now we all know the seriousness and extent the firm could go to in order to keep their investors satisfied.
Safaricom’s Littlecabs Partners with Craft Silicon
Through a partnership with a Craft Silicon- a software developer based in Nairobi- the telecoms giant is planning on launching an app known as “Littlecabs” which is somehow similar to Uber. The deal was that Safaricom will participate in developing the app by providing network connectivity and installing Wi-Fi in the Littlecabs’ assigned vehicles.
Payment for the services will be provided by the firm’s M-PESA financial services. Just in case you think it will be a no-match to Uber, the high number of registered M-PESA users gives a glimpse of the potential. Majority of Kenyan’s have an M-PESA account which will be much easier and convenient to pay for the service.
Check out: Phones on Offer at the Safaricom Shop
The exciting thing is that the launch will take place 3 weeks from now, if what the CEO said is anything to go by. This means it will be up and running by July. The cost of securing Littlecabs services is likely to be lower since it is a completely local venture.
It was only sometime early last year when Uber launched in Kenya (Nairobi) and did the same in Mombasa only recently. It seems like Safaricom also wants a piece of the pie before Uber becomes the dominant player. It will be interesting to see if the animosity directed towards Uber by the old taxi operators will be directed towards Littlecabs as well.