Nigeria-based mobility giant, GIGM, has launched a payment service for its users. This is the first of many services that the company intends to offer as it moves towards being a one-stop-shop for the needs of its customers.
In September 2019, the company revealed a slight name change, replacing 'Motors' with 'Mobility' as it looked to expand its offerings. Two years after that, it says it is redefining mobility to mean access rather than just movement.
Over a chat with Techpoint Africa, Okhae Enahoro, the company's new CEO, said, "When you look at the word mobility, it means the ability to move freely. Movement in itself may not necessarily mean physically transporting yourself from one place to another.
"It just basically means advancement. It can mean growth. So when you look at these definitions, you realise that we’re trying to enable lifestyles, so we want to bring services to people that allow them to do things easily."
For now, this service will only be available in Nigeria — GIGM's headquarters — and will allow users to make payments for airtime, electricity bills, cable TV, and Internet data. However, there are plans to launch in other African countries over the next few years.
The beginnings of a super app?
The super app model has gained popularity in emerging economies following the successes of WeChat and Alipay in China. Several startups have sprung up, especially in Asia, to replicate the model.
In Africa, Opay, Gozem, Safeboda, and Gokada have positioned themselves as super apps with varying degrees of success, and this latest feature could see GIGM becoming the newest entrant in this space.
Typically, super apps start by offering a core service through which they get a foothold and can provide an array of services to the customer.
This service could be food delivery, transportation, or payments. For GIGM, this could be building on its tech-enabled transportation platform to offer payment services to its users.
However, because its services are mainly for long-distance travel, the company would have to include more services than it currently offers to gain more customers.
A look at its mobile app would provide some insight into how this could work.
One of the options on the app is called Danfo, named after the famous yellow buses in Lagos State. Tapping on it would redirect you to the app store to download the app.
Danfo is the company's bus-hailing platform that allows users to book intra-city rides. Although the service is not yet live, it provides insights into the company plans and could see it come up against Shuttlers and Treepz.
Lite from GIGM is another offering that will enable the company to onboard new users. Nigeria's fragmented transportation services mean that users cannot travel comfortably over short distances.
With Lite, the company plans to provide users with the ability to make short journeys outside a city that would ordinarily not be undertaken by ride-hailing services such as Uber and Bolt.
Even with these offerings, ride-hailing could be the fastest way to attract many users and see it come up against Uber and Bolt.
With the large war chest available to these two startups in the form of venture capital, it would be a considerable challenge for the company. However, if there is any local player capable of pulling this off, it is GIGM.
In recent years, the company has focused on developing its technology offerings, deploying data across the business. Its understanding of the local business terrain gained over 20 years of operation gives it an advantage that other local companies lack.
For super apps to thrive, they must have a robust and frequent core use case, a good payment system, and relevant services close to the core use case.
With its position as a leading transportation service provider and the addition of a payment option, the company looks to be on the right path. However, the new services it offers could play a role in its success or failure.
Nigeria's low smartphone and Internet penetration also mean that more people would be using the Internet or smartphones for the first time every year. Providing these groups with relevant services could hold the key to success.