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TALLINN, Estonia — Uber used to dominate ride-hailing in Poland and Kenya. Over the past two years, that started to change, writes Adam Satario in the New York Times on April 23, 2019 in a piece about Estonian successful start-up Taxify / Bolt.

In Poland, a small competitor opened a rival service and began winning customers with cheaper fares and attracting drivers by charging lower commissions. In Kenya, that same upstart grabbed business by offering motorbike rides and letting passengers pay using a popular mobile payments provider.

In both countries, Uber responded by spending more money on new incentives to entice customers and drivers.

The rival that put Uber on the defensive is called Bolt. Based in Estonia, it was founded six years ago by a 19-year-old college dropout, Markus Villig. Since then, the company has turned into an unexpected success story by becoming Uber’s most formidable challenger in Europe and Africa.

“Transportation is a completely different space,” Mr. Villig, now 25, said in an interview at Bolt’s offices inside a former furniture warehouse in Estonia’s capital. “You will have these regional champions.” He added that Uber did not make Eastern Europe and Africa a priority because “they have bigger battles elsewhere.”


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