Feature phone users to obtain Little taxi service on short code

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Local taxi-hailing app Little has unveiled a short code messaging feature that will help users of feature phones to ask for a taxi.

Little’s USSD technology also enables users without data to hail a taxi, saving them the trouble of not catching a ride for lack of internet. The e-hailing app, founded by Craft Silicon, a Kenyan multinational, is rolling out the new technology with the help of Safaricom .

“Little is available to non-smart phone users via dialing *826#. We are the first guys in the world to provide a location-based service on a non-smart phone using USSD technology. In Mobile GSM based technology, generally all the mobile communications are served by several cell towers,” said Craft Silicon founder and chief executive, Kamal Budhabhatti.

“Along with Safaricom, what we have done is to map the location of all the cell tower location coordinates and when a customer dials *826#, Little and Safaricom are able to get the exact location of the rider… and forward this request to the nearest driver in that area.”

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The firm is also planning to add a “chauffeur drive” option on the app, where car owners will be able to request a driver from Little. The drivers are later picked up by Little cab for a small fee.

“We realised that many times people go to drink over the weekends in their car. But by the time they are leaving back for home, many of them are tipsy. They still take a risk to drive home in their car, since they cannot leave the vehicle at the bar. The chauffeur service would allow you to order a driver who is vetted by us, he would come and drive you home safely.” 

Little came into the market last year as a rival to the American e-hailing company Uber, which had made its foray into Kenya in 2015.

The Safaricom-backed Little has since expanded beyond Kenya and is currently piloting its app in Lagos, Nigeria, with plans to launch soon.

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