OPay is a one-stop mobile-based platform for payment, transportation, food & grocery delivery, and other important services in your everyday life. Millions of users rely on OPay everyday to send and receive money, pay bills, and order food and groceries.
They’re everywhere, green and hard to miss. You’ve probably used one of their services or perhaps you haven’t. Not just yet. But you’ve heard of them and seen their billboards around town. OPay landed quietly in Nigeria in 2018 as a payments solution but has since gained name recognition with its ubiquitous bike-hailing service.
What would you do if you had $50 million in funding from some of the world’s biggest names? If you’re OPay, you introduce various new services in the hopes of thoroughly decimating the competition. You leave people wondering: What the hell is OPay is actually doing?
The OPay story didn’t start in Nigeria. It began in 2017 in Norway. In May 2017, the Norwegian internet company Opera announced a $100 million fund to invest in digital businesses in Africa, with $40 dedicated million to the Nigerian market alone. The company said the fund was aimed at improving financial inclusion and the African digital economy.
The Nigerian side of the OPay story, however, started in August 2018. In order to operate here, the company paid an undisclosed fee to acquire a controlling stake in PayCom, a fintech company founded by Telnet Nigeria. PayCom owned a licence to operate payment services in the country but was reportedly at risk of losing this after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) proposed stricter financial licensing requirements. The OPay acquisition gave the company new life within a bold new play. Since the acquisition, PayCom has operated all OPay services in Nigeria and become a vehicle for Opera’s $40 million investment fund for the country.
Beginning in July 2018, OPay started using a network of agents to take its services to Nigeria’s unbanked population of 36.6 million people.
In December 2018, OPay said it had 3,000 mobile money agents in the country. Four months later in April, it claimed this had grown to 10,000 agents. It jumped again to 20,000 in May. And by July, the company claimed it had 40,000 “active” agents across the country. This growth has been remarkably rapid, leading some industry insiders to question its veracity. By comparison, Paga, one of Nigeria’s biggest mobile money services, has 23,208 agents after almost a decade in business.
Osagie Alonge, the Director of Growth at OPay, said: An agent is someone who uses the OPay platform to offer agent banking services and makes a profit from it. For us after installing the OPay app they have to do a KYC and agent registration.
In June, it launched ORide, a bike-hailing service. It has also introduced bus transport (OBus), tricycle-hailing (OTrike), food delivery (OFood) and wealth management (OWealth). Last month, the Nigerian OPay introduced OKash loans, a service facilitated by Kenya’s O-Play. These new services are all available from within the OPay app, turning it into a super app.
It secured its first external funding in July, receiving $50 million in funding from a group of Chinese investors including Sequoia China, IDG Capital, Source Code, GSR Ventures and Meituan-Dianping.
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