Leveraging technology to improve on existing products is a trend that will not slow down any time soon. The taxi world, at least in the local scene, has experienced the merits and rough patches of sticking to old guns owing to the existence of e-taxis. Uber still remains a key player in this field, but the ride-hailing app is not alone in this business as it faces fierce competition from similar products that want a share of this lucrative money-maker.
Little made its debut in Kenya a little over a year ago, and while the company has insisted that it has no intentions of competing with Uber, at least, for the moment, the two remain close rivals, in addition to other players such as Taxify that is clearly improving its product with new features and further regional expansion.
According to Little’s CEO Kamal Budhabatti, the Kenyan-based e-taxi company has paid out approximately KES 1 billion to driver partners since it began its operations in the country. More than half of that amount (KES 650 million) was accessed by drivers via M-PESA services, while the rest was remitted to drivers through other channels such as weekly reconciliations.
Little continues to enjoy success in local market, and has an edge over the competition in terms of innovative features such as Face Recognition for its drivers, and is the only ride-hailing app that exists in the lakeside city, Kisumu. When the company was announcing the driver verification technology that uses Microsoft’s Cognitive API, it said that it had plans to jet out of the country and expand its turf to Lagos, Nigeria by October 8. This development is yet take root and rumours point out to a November launch.
With around 5000 local drivers, Little rounds up 10,000 rides per day, a number that can go up to 13,000 during weekends. A fortnight ago, the app crashed when it received approximately 40,000 ride requests, a number that surpassed Little’s system capabilities. The issue was fixed in a timely manner, and on the bright side, it is an indirect hint for progress as more people use the service, and the need to upgrade their infrastructure as more people request for rides especially in evenings that feature bad weather.