Taxi hailing firm Bolt raises US$180.9m, to launch e-scooters

KENYA – Taxi hailing services company Bolt Kenya, is set to launch e-scooter rental business and expand to smaller towns and peri-urban centres in Kenya after raising US$180.9 million US private equity firm D1 Capital Partners.

Bolt Kenya country manager Olaoluwa Akinnusi said the company will expand its network beyond the 16 urban centres it currently operates and introduce the electric scooters.

The move comes after Bolt, the global company, headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia received US$180.9 million from private equity firm, D1 Capital Partners, which will also be for invested in security tools and expansion of food delivery business.

The plan involves inclusion of facial verification tools to prevent sharing of the driver’s platforms and improve security.

The company is also pushing for e-scooters, a two-wheeled vehicle running on small rechargeable batteries, for short-hop trips in the city or delivery, serving as an alternative to motorbikes.

Electric scooters, which are cheaper than normal car rides, are fully functional in Europe and were recently launched in South Africa.

“Bolt will expand its network beyond the 16 urban centres it currently operates and introduce the electric scooters”

Users will be able to hire the self-driven e-scooters via the smartphone app, in a similar way to car rides.

Bolt is betting on the expected switch from taxis and public transport to open-air e-scooters that are self-driven amid the coronavirus crisis.

Taxi hailing services reckon that lack of infrastructure to support the e-scooters remains a barrier to their large-scale rollout.

Bolt will also be expanding its services to other peri-urban towns and pump up its food delivery business, Bolt Food, launched last week, taking on its competitors including Jumia Food, Uber Eats and Glovo.

Two months ago, the on-demand mobility platform, has raised US$182 million to bolster the safety of its platform through facial recognition and artificial intelligence in a funding round led by D1 Capital Partners, with the participation of Darsana Capital Partners.

Founded by Markus Villig, Martin Villig, and Oliver Leisalu, the Uber rival has developed an on-demand network of ride-hailing, micro mobility, and food delivery services in 200 cities and 40 countries.

Bolt Food, launched in 2019, is currently available in 16 countries and 33 cities.

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