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OPay Licks Wound with ‘Okada’ Ban, Shifts Focus To Deliveries

With the Lagos State government reiterating its resolve on the ban of commercial motorbikes, popularly called “Okada”, the management of OPay, operators of a chain of commercial motorbikes, has stated its plan to refocus on deliveries.

Speaking in an interview, the Country Manager for OPay, Iniabasi Akpan, lamented the huge loss the company incurred with the ban on motorbikes in Lagos but said that the company is trying to cushion the effect with its other businesses. “There is no doubt that the Okada ban in Lagos State cost us a great deal. But, we still have a payment business which is thriving. And I think that that is the most important thing. I guess others were more hit than us because they don’t have a payment business. Our core is the payment business. So, that has always been the core of our business and not actually the ride business.”

He continued: “The ultimate goal of Opay is what we are trying to do which is to drive financial inclusion. We still have a core payment business. So, if the ride doesn’t work, there are still opportunities for us in payment in terms of bank transfers, airtime. So, Opay itself is a payment business. But then, when you have other subsidiaries like the ride-hailing, food and another delivery side, which is O-food, where we see an opportunity that will empower people, we will leverage the available digital platforms.

“We have subsidiaries like logistics and transport. With the ban, we are going to be focusing on things around delivery. I am sure there are a lot of discussions going around that. And very soon, I am sure that there will be some transformation.”

It will be recalled that Opay invested in a mobile money operator, PayCom Nigeria Limited in 2007, and PayCom applied for a license in 2010 and got an approval in principle from the Central Bank in 2011, with a final license in 2011.

According to Akpan, the plan to go into delivery will also help a lot of SMEs that have challenges in setting up a robust infrastructure to do that but does not have the resources. “I can tell you many of the cars you find in Lagos are either going to pick up something or drop something and it is always during busy hours.

“So, if people can get what they order delivered, you will find out that there will be less traffic. I believe that Logistics would make an impact on the number of cars that you see on the roads.”

By this slant in business, the company may be forced to sell off some of its motorbikes to interested individuals outside the state, or companies that might want to use them for courier or delivery services.

Opay in Nigeria is a member of the Opera Group of Companies, owners of Opera AS Norway, developers of the popular web browser, Opera.

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