Rogue drivers on taxi hailing apps Uber and Taxify have stepped up their fraudulent billing of customers, raising concerns over the ability of the automated platform owners to protect consumers.
The fraudulent taxi drivers use dummy apps that interfere with the authentic Uber and Taxify apps location (GPS) readings to create a parallel travel path that prolongs the journey and ultimately enables them to charge riders more.
The Business Daily first highlighted the customer billing fraud in May this year but a recent surge in the use of fake GPS itineraries has exposed the taxi-hailing platforms’ inability to safeguard their systems and block infiltration.
Hundreds of customers have recently reported suffering fraudulent billings by Uber and Taxify drivers.
The two operators, however, maintain that they have refunded all customers who report fraudulent activity — suggesting it is the clients’ responsibility to evaluate the fares charged after every trip to avoid losing money.
One passenger who used a Taxify taxi on Tuesday from the Nairobi central business district (CBD) to Kitengela was billed Sh850 for the 32.5-kilometre journey, only for the return trip on a different Taxify cab to bill her Sh1,550 after the journey path was altered to indicate that she had travelled for 66.8 kilometres.
The customer was yet to receive a refund by the time we went to press, even after lodging a complaint with Taxify two days earlier.
Another rider who travelled in an Uber taxi from Mbagathi Hospital to Nairobi CBD was charged Sh650 on grounds that she had travelled 15.82 kilometres, more than triple the 5.1-kilometre journey. The Uber estimate had indicated that she would pay about Sh320 prior to the trip.
One other rider, who used an Uber taxi from Kenya School of Law in Karen to the Movenpick Hotel in Westlands through Lang’ata Road — a distance of about 18.3 to 20 kilometres (Google Maps) – was billed Sh1,280 after the app indicated that he had covered 33 kilometres.
The customer had earlier received a fare estimate of Sh810 for the journey that took place during free-flowing traffic hours. The passenger received a refund of the difference (Sh470) after lodging a complaint through the Uber app.
Fake GPS itinerary
Taxify, responding to queries on irregular billings, confirmed that it had noticed the use of fake GPS itinerary but insisted that its drivers were incapable of manipulating trip distances.
“Yes, we are aware and have managed to block some drivers who have made attempts to game the system. Such attempts are immediately flagged by the fraud team, the driver’s account is suspended and the rider compensated,” Taxify country manager Kenya Alex Mwaura said.
“Please note that drivers cannot manipulate trip distances as this is calculated in real time as the vehicle moves. At the end of every trip, the passengers are able to confirm the fare directly from the app. A receipt is immediately sent on the email to validate how the trip was charged.”
Fraudulent billing by taxi drivers using e-hailing apps have been on the rise in Kenya since late 2017 after similar incidents were reported in Nigeria.
In an earlier correspondence with the Business Daily, Uber Kenya indicated that it was aware of the incidents, which were in breach of its operating guidelines.
“Uber is aware of these incidents. They are in clear violation of our Community Guidelines. Fraudulent activity undermines the trust on which Uber is built. That’s why we are constantly on the lookout for fraud by riders and driver-partners who are gaming our systems,” said Uber East Africa spokesperson Janet Kemboi in the past communication.
Reports showed that a test geofencing-based app, Lockito, was used by drivers to defraud their customers in Nigeria and later in Kenya.
The app is used to generate a fake trip and a fake fare from the point a driver picks up a passenger to the point they end the trip.
In most cases, the app is able to start the trip long before the actual one begins. At the end of the journey, the passenger is presented with a cost tally of both the actual and fake trip as the app cannot differentiate the two.
Most of the time the unsuspecting passengers will barely notice the glitch in the pricing or merely attribute it to the usual price surges.
Any customer who does not notice or report irregular billing through the support line offered on apps system will have left the fraudulent driver to go scot-free.
North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion
North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)
North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.
The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.
The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.
“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.
The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.
“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”
Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.
Gebeya Inc. Launches App to Accelerate Access to Job Opportunities and Skilled Talent on the Continent
Gebeya Inc. announced the launch of its new app: Gebeya Talent. With this, the Pan-African online talent marketplace will expand access to its network across the continent and around the globe. African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity will now have access to these features:
- A quick and easy application process
- Save time with automatic matching with exciting projects inline with their skill sets
- No bidding; get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience level; get paid in multiple currencies
- Being part of an engaging, growing community with exclusive professional networking, events, free upskilling, and mentorship
- Showcase their best work via custom portfolio and profile
Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join our talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement. Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved. Throughout the year, additional features will be added to streamline and further optimize the process, and leverage the full power of artificial intelligence and automation. From application, to testing, from interview to onboarding, potential candidates can expect to enjoy a seamless experience.
“We strive to be THE most-referenced freelance African Talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a MUST,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya. “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. “Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”
A New Kind of Talent Marketplace
The year 2020 was abuzz with phrases like “future of work,” “gig economy,” and “remote work.” The release of the Gebeya Talent app proves that this bold, new future predicted has arrived. Access to opportunities for talent has expanded, as they are no longer restricted to their immediate geographic location; we follow a remote-first work model. And: anyone can download the app.
“This is only the beginning,” said Thierno Niang, Chief Platform Officer at Gebeya. “We launched a mobile app before a web application, because all of our talent have access to a phone. As we add features to the product, we will also expand to include a web app.”
The most in-demand talent for startups and corporations include: software development, graphics & design, project management, digital marketing, product management, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. But, as market needs evolve, so will the Gebeya Talent pool.
Best of African Talent for the World
The Gebeya Talent app grants access for talented professionals in Africa and its diaspora to join a community built with them in mind. Rather than bid against millions of freelancers in an anonymous pool of talent, they can be assured that every opportunity caters to their skill set and agreed-upon rate. No more underbidding, missed payments, or ghosted clients. Because Gebeya manages the entire process of matching, plus administrative and finance processes, talents are ensured timely and fair delivery of payment in exchange for their work.
Within the next three-to-five years, we anticipate identifying and vetting the top 100,000 talent. From that, we expect to onboard the top 20,000 best. If you’re a talent from Africa or of African descent, seeking to join a community that will care about you, download the Gebeya Talent app and apply today.
A web-based application to connect clients of all sizes, including individual entrepreneurs, startups, and large enterprises with talent, will launch later this month. This will be for clients that are seeking to: diversify their workforce, augment their existing team, or expand into new markets without the hassle of opening a physical office. Our goal is that clients will be matched with talent within seconds, and within 24-to-48 hours of contract-signing, begin the work.
Tayary Lands Pre-Seed Investment from AUC Angels, Alex Angels, and The Cairo Angels
Amr Abdelfattah, CEO of Tayary (Source: AUC Angels)
Tayary an online logistics and delivery platform secures pre-seed investment from AUC Angels, Alex Angels, and The Cairo Angels.
Launched in 2017, Tayary is a multifaceted online platform that facilitates order delivery through both B2B and B2C models. The Alexandria-based startup has developed its own order-tracking feature in-house, allowing businesses and individuals to send and receive deliveries in an affordable and efficient manner. Their current services include: online food ordering, B2B delivery services, grocery and pharmacies shopping. During the lockdown initiated in Q2 of 2020, the startup was quick to respond by launching an additional on-demand courier service, Tayary Go, to help clients run errands while staying safe.
Amr Abdelfattah, CEO of Tayary said, “At Tayary, we work hard to maintain a solid user experience. Along with our Vendor Partners, we ensure that a wide variety of restaurant choices are available to our users, We continue to strive to provide more delivery solutions to a wider range of user base, both to B2B and B2C.
In 2019 we released our vendor on-demand delivery app, which enables restaurants to access riders in their range and deliver their own orders, we serve a wide range of business starting from multinationals like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Hardee’s to single local restaurants.”
The raised funding will be deployed towards expanding geographically, growing the team and launching extensive marketing efforts in order to increase the clients they serve over the next year.
This is not the first syndicated investment bringing together the three angel investment
networks. Earlier this year, The Cairo Angels, Alex Angels, and AUC Angels announced
investing in ElGameya, a fintech mobile application that manages ROSCA cycles.