Mobile Payments Style Ridesharing Operation Careem Pulls Out of Sudan

July 2, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

On the surface, mobile payments and ridesharing go together like a hand in a glove. Why wouldn’t they? After all, no one who’s running a ridesharing operation wants to keep a cash box around; it’s too easily stolen. Those who ride, meanwhile, want convenience, and mobile payments systems mean a ride can be paid for in seconds, sometimes even prepaid in advance. For Careem, a ridesharing operation recently launched in Sudan, the market has fundamentally shifted and that meant an exit for the company.

Careem’s case is a bit unusual, in that it hasn’t actually been in the Sudanese ridesharing market for a full year before its own departure. It started up back in September 2018, not long after the United States lifted economic sanctions on the country and made Sudan look like a fresh market. Now, not even a year later, the company is departing the field.

Representatives noted there were no plans to close any other markets besides the Sudanese market, and no other markets would see any other impact as a result. Careem was, at last report, one of a bare handful of companies who made the move into the Sudanese market after economic sanctions were lifted therein. Yet apparently, that was enough for Uber to prepare a bid which, back in late March, was valued at just over $3 billion.

Moreover, some reports of political instability within Sudan have emerged, and more sanctions may actually be on the way, according to reports from the US State Department. It’s worth noting, though, that Sudan is not an environment free of ridesharing operations; Tirhal is one such app that’s currently working in the country.

So what prompted the pullout? A reasonable guess says all of these points at once; an instability cocktail like this doesn’t suggest a good business environment. Sure, any of these points can change, but businesses need at least some notes of stability to keep operations afloat. Suddenly losing a market due to some uprising doesn’t look good on the stock prospectus.

That’s mostly speculative, but suffice it to say that Sudan doesn’t exactly look accommodating for ridesharing operations right now. Still, Uber picking up another competitor should give it a leg up in the rest of the world, though.