Taxify, a European-based rival to Uber and the leading app-based taxi-hailing platform in Africa, expects to grow its African business ten-fold over the next two years while it works to dethrone Uber in Europe, its chief executive told Reuters.
Markus Villig said his firm, which has 15 million customers and half a million drivers on its platform in more than 25 countries, was on track for its drivers to rake a combined 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from rides this year.
The Estonian firm is looking to add more services and more countries in 2019, he said during this week’s Web Summit conference in Lisbon, without disclosing details. Taxify opened in Lisbon earlier this year.
“We see massive potential in Africa to grow at least ten times in the next two years,” Villig said. “We grew our number of rides ten times in 2017 and will be one of the fastest growing companies in the industry this year as well.”
In May, Taxify secured $175 million in funding from a group led by German automaker Daimler to help its battle against Uber.
As for Europe, where Taxify has sought to capitalise on mounting driver resistance to Uber over pay and other issues to get into new markets, including some abandoned by Uber such as Slovakia and Hungary, Villig is aiming to overtake Uber in both the number of users and rides.
“When you look at other regions in the world you have a local champion win in that place. We want to be that leader in Europe, that’s our focus,” he said.
San Francisco-based Uber is active in more than 80 countries and is the market leader in Europe. It takes around a 25-percent cut of fares from drivers using its app.
Taxify typically charges a 15 percent commission, arguing happier drivers provide a better service.
The company has been working with European regulators to try to amend strict public transport laws and rules, saying consumers benefit from the flexibility and competition brought by taxi-hailing platforms.
To increase flexibility, Taxify is working on different solutions for different types of trips, such as using smaller vehicles for city centres.
An attempt to enter the highly competitive London market ground to a halt last year when transport regulators there denied it a licence to operate. But Villig said the application was “in progress, and we’re working with Transport for London to show that we’re best-in-breed”.
TymeBank, owned by South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, has started signing up customers for its new online bank, one of a number of entrants planning to steal clients away from traditional lenders such as Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Absa Group Ltd.
The Johannesburg-based company has signed up 1,800 clients in the first week of an unofficial launch, Chief Executive Officer Sandile Shabalala said in an interview in the city on Friday. The official opening is scheduled for the end of the first quarter next year, he said.
TymeBank, controlled by Motsepe’s investment vehicle African Rainbow Capital Investments Ltd., joins at least two other companies seeking to challenge the country’s top five lenders through digital business models. Discovery Ltd., the nation’s largest health-insurance administrator, has said it plans to introduce its banking unit to the public next week.
Tyme’s account does not charge a basic monthly fee. Instead clients pay for specific services as they use them, with the most expensive transaction in its fee structure, cash withdrawals at ATMs of other banks, costing R8 rand.
“People normally don’t understand bank charges, but this is simple to understand. There are no hidden fees,” Shabalala said. “What we are driving to the market is transparency.” The bank isn’t targeting a specific segment of the market, he said.
Clients will be able to download Tyme’s mobile app for free at any of its 730 self-service kiosks, located in outlets of retailer Pick n Pay Stores Ltd. The bank also pays for data costs related to the app, Shabalala said.
“The next step in the journey, obviously, is to get into the lending space and we want to take our time around that,” Shabalala said. “We don’t have existing customers and first want to understand the profiles of the customers we want to lend to” by offering them transactional accounts, he said.
While the Prudential Authority of the South African Reserve Bank, which oversees the industry, may not have traditionally allowed a bank to operate solely online, it has permitted Tyme to move ahead with its plans, Shabalala said.
“Traditionally they would not even have considered for a bank to put its core banking platform on the cloud, that was a definite no-no,” he said. “But we are the first bank” to be able to do it in South Africa.
China on Friday rejected the false allegation that “China had been monitoring the African Union building’’, urging the relevant news organisation to objectively report facts instead of fabricating lies.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks during a daily news briefing.
Hua asked for comments on a German media report published on Thursday that accused China of “installing listening equipment at the headquarters of the African Union building; also of intending to increase political influence by assisting African countries.
She said such lies had already been refuted by leaders of African countries.
“The African people know best and are in the best position to say whether China-Africa cooperation is good or not,’’ Hua said.
She said that during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in September and during the 73rd UN General Assembly, many African leaders publicly refuted the accusation that China-Africa cooperation had increased the continent’s debt burden.
“They believe that China’s support and assistance is not attached to any political conditions and does not interfere in their internal affairs.
“They added that China is the most reliable partner for the development and revitalisation of African countries,’’ Hua added.
Former President of the German Parliament Norbert Lammert visited Namibia not long ago and expressed his concerns about the rising influence of China in the African nation. However, Namibian President Hage Geingob said the concern that other countries have about Chinese influence in Namibia is “annoying’’.
Hua, referring to the president’s words, said the international community “should not underestimate Africa’s intelligence’’.
The spokesperson also expressed confidence that media organisations would correct their attitudes and objectively report on the cooperation between China and African countries. She said media if organisations ignored the fundamental facts and kept fabricating lies “it would only damage their own credibility.’’
Credit: Herald NG
South Africa’s high-speed rail network is seeking 4 billion rand ($290 million) to increase its number of trains by 50 percent ahead of a potential expansion to other parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The Development Bank of Southern Africa Ltd. is leading the fundraising, a spokeswoman said in an emailed response. Canada’s Bombardier Inc., CRRC Corp. of China and local firm Egoli Rail are among the bidders to supply the trains, she said. The government-owned Gautrain is also planning to build a second depot.
The purchases will come ahead of a wider expansion that could see the Gautrain add a further 150 kilometers (93 miles) of track to its 80-kilometer network. The service, which was built ahead of the 2010 soccer world cup in South Africa, currently runs from Pretoria to central Johannesburg and would extend as far as Soweto in the southwest under the proposals, which the National Treasury is considering.
The Gautrain currently has 96 coaches and is run by the Bombela Concession Company, which won a maintenance and operation contract in 2006. It’s shareholders include Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd.