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OPay blames ‘harsh business conditions,’ COVID-19 as it closes business units

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PHOTO: TONYE BAKARE

OPay Nigeria Thursday said it was putting on hold the operations of three of its units – ride-hailing services, ORide and OCar, and logistics service OExpress.

The payment company said harsh business conditions in the country, the ban on the operations of the commercial motorcycles, and the lockdown induced by COVID-19 pandemic badly impacted its businesses.

“Globally, ride-sharing businesses have been heavily impacted by the pandemic,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“But several months ago, foreseeing this issue, OPay had already taken steps to restructure our business focus away from rides.”

OPay said it has invested in and enjoying “accelerated growth” and demand for its “offline mobile money agency, and online digital payment.”

It said its offline and online payment operations grew by 44% in the first four months of 2020.

A senior official of the company also told The Guardian on the phone that the e-commerce platform – OMall – will also not be suspended.

Iniabasi Akpan, who heads the company’s operations in Nigeria, told The Guardian in June 2019 that payment operations are the “backbone” of OPay business in the country.

The company, he said at the time, had more than 40, 000 OPay agents spread across Nigeria, some of whom can connect with their local communities and provide hands-on support services to registered users.

“We provide opportunities for operators and users in the less formal and informal sector to access the tools, training, skills and finance they need for a better life leveraging the use of mobile phones and technology,” Abasi said.

The shift of focus by the company might have come after Lagos State Government banned the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in different parts of Lagos city. At the time, its bike-hailing unit, ORide, was its most visible operation.

The affected LGs are the state capital Ikeja, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, Apapa, Surulere and Eti Osa. The ban came into effect on February 1 with the state government citing security and safety concerns for the measure.

“From January to April 2020…we witnessed a 44% growth of offline and online transaction value even in the midst of pandemic and lockdown,” OPay said.

“This is a testament to the high demand for flexible and easy financial services by Nigerians.”


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