Controversial businessman Kenny Kunene has launched his the long-promised South African ehailing app Yookoo Rides – and he says it is going to give Uber and Bolt (formerly Taxify) a run for their money.
"With the increase of the petrol price, we are coming in at the right time," he tells Business Insider.
Kunene said the app was conceptualised in 2015, developed in 2017, tested last year, and is now live – in Gauteng. Kunene is still looking for money to expand the service to other provinces.
The service is only available in Gauteng for now. Kunene is looking to raise more money to expand the service into other provinces, and eventually across the continent.
A total of 100 Yookoo drivers are currently registered on the app, he says.
Kunene has a habit of attracting publicity around his art collection, his approach to sexually explicit material, and his choice of platters of sushi, as well as his up-and-down finances, especially after the demise of his high-end nightclub ZAR. He spent several years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme.
"Drivers don't need to have their own cars," says Kunene. Instead Yookoo has partnered with car rental services that can provide vehicles to anyone with a valid driver's licence, and who has been through Yookoo's training.
Existing Uber and Bolt drivers can also register.
Kunene added that he wasn't worried about various turf wars between meter-taxis and ehailing service providers.
"The war is over," he says. "We haven't heard of any attacks lately so it's not a problem." He went on to say that meter taxi drivers will have to get with the programme as the industry becomes more digital.
Users of the Yookoo Rides app will pay 40% less than they would on Uber and Bolt, Kunene claims, though testing by Business Insider showed the discounts to range between 20% and 35%.
For frequent users, the app comes equipped with a wallet feature where they can load money for future rides.
Users are also able to calculate how much their monthly commute will cost and store that amount in the wallet, so that the likes of parents who wish to use it to transport kids to and from school can load the right amount.
"We are forever consumers of foreign services and it about time that we are part of the technology revolution and evolution," Kunene tell Business Insider. "We are not an IT company, we are a smart technology company. We will be introducing new technologies in the future that will hopefully expand to Africa and the world."
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