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Emerging Tech

Bolt Kenya adds feature to stop offline trips

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Ride-sharing platform Bolt in Kenya has introduced a new feature on its app called "Driver Asked to Pay Off-the-App" to discourage riders from taking trips offline and paying off the app.

Aimed at reducing offline trips, the new feature enables riders to take immediate action if they encounter situations where the driver asks for payment for a trip outside the app, including if they ask riders for payments over the set fare or to cancel the trip to go offline.

The ride-sharing platform encouraged both drivers and passengers to make use of the safety features in the app's Safety Toolkit designed for active (in-app) driving.

"We're happy to introduce our latest cancellation option, designed to cut down on offline trips and address instances where drivers insist on charging rates exceeding those on the app," explained Bolt Kenya Country Manager Linda Ndungu in a statement.

She added that the company discourages both drivers and riders from using the platform to exchange contact details or negotiate for offline trips.

"This goes against the safety and reliability we aim to uphold for our users. When drivers and riders go offline, essential safety features like GPS tracking and SOS coverage in the app become inactive, leaving users vulnerable and without access to critical in-app safety tools," Ndungu continued.

Therefore, she said remaining online ensures the effectiveness of these features and prioritizes the safety of the app's users.

Ndungu added that mitigating actions were in place for drivers consistently reported as soliciting offline rides.

"These actions include temporary bans and account suspensions, as we remain dedicated to providing a secure platform for everyone," she added.

Ride-sharing platforms beef up security

Bolt is not the only platform doubling down on user safety its competitor Uber has also recently introduced several features focusing on this issue.

Bolt has encouraged both drivers and passengers to make use of the safety features in the app.   (Source: Image by ASphotofamily on Freepik)
Bolt has encouraged both drivers and passengers to make use of the safety features in the app.
(Source: Image by ASphotofamily on Freepik)

In August 2023 Uber South Africa launched an opt-in audio-recording feature that allows riders and drivers to record their trips in case of safety incidents.

In Nigeria, Uber launched an in-app emergency service feature which provides on-demand security and medical response for riders and drivers while on a trip.

The Nigerian safety feature was announced in August 2023 when Uber Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) announced that it was expanding into eight more cities across Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.

Bolt's new "Driver Asked to Pay Off-the-App" feature comes on the back of the company's 13.4 billion Kenyan shillings (US$106 million at the time) investment to expand its services beyond the 16 towns it operates.

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*Top image source: Bolt Press Kit

Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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