PickMe Launches JumJum in Nepal, Targeting Motorcycle Market

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Ride Sharing Nepal
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Sri Lankan tech firm PickMe debuts JumJum in Nepal, targeting the extensive motorcycle market through a strategic partnership with Nepal's F1Soft.

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PickMe, the renowned technology firm from Sri Lanka, has expanded its digital footprint into Nepal with the introduction of its innovative partnership project JumJum, which translates to "Let’s Go." Embracing Nepal, where motorcycles comprise a staggering 78% of the approximately 3.22 million registered vehicles, JumJum will make its debut in the bustling Kathmandu Valley. This area, often referred to as the "Motorcycle City," reportedly has over a million motorcycles vying for space on its streets.

PickMe's CEO, Zulfer Jiffry, expressed that their decision to enter the Nepalese market, especially targeting the motorcycle segment, was well-founded given these statistics. JumJum is primed to initiate operations within Kathmandu Valley where about 40% of Nepal's total 2.5 million motorcycles are concentrated.

The app has been dubbed JumJum in an effort to resonate more authentically with Nepali users. The initiative is a strategic alliance between PickMe and Nepal's premier fintech firm 'F1Soft'. "The establishment of this partnership marks the apex of an extensive search across South Asia to broaden our horizons and deliver our services in another country within this region," Zulfer Jiffry remarked. He further touted this movement as beneficial for Nepal's economy by incorporating a reputable local tech entity.

Back in 2018, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested $2.5 million in equity in PickMe. This was IFC's inaugural investment in a Sri Lankan start-up venture, aiming to propel expansion throughout the island while enhancing transportation options that were affordable, safe, and effective.

"PickMe has not only diversified its offerings over time by branching out from ride-hailing into logistics and becoming frontrunners in doorstep delivery of essentials during difficult times but also played a significant role in spawning employment and new economic prospects for many individuals including women," noted Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa, Country Manager for IFC in Sri Lanka and Maldives. He conveyed his pleasure at witnessing PickMe transcend boundaries and contribute positively to building up Nepal's burgeoning start-up environment.

Representing JumJum, Biswas Dhakal — President and Chairperson of F1Soft Group — expressed enthusiasm about this collaboration: “With JumJum launching here, we celebrate the union of two titans of technology - PickMe from Sri Lanka and F1Soft from Nepal. This alliance heralds an era of expertise amalgamation and innovation set on revolutionizing ride-hailing service landscapes in Nepal."

Ride Sharing in Nepal: History, Issues and Current Options

In Nepal, the concept of ride-sharing—essentially sharing a vehicle with others, often coordinated through an app for a price—has revolutionized transportation, particularly within the Kathmandu Valley. Before the advent of ride-sharing services, residents had the choice between traditional public transport, hiring taxis, or owning private vehicles such as bikes or cars. The introduction of ride-sharing has simplified transportation for many.

It was in 2017 when Tootle, Nepal's pioneering ride-sharing application, was unveiled. Despite initial imperfections, Tootle signaled a transformative shift in the country's transit culture. Through the app, commuters no longer needed to trek to bus stops; rides could now be summoned directly to their doorstep and delivered them precisely where needed. The app also offered the convenience of cashless transactions and naturally mitigated congestion issues, given that only two individuals could share a motorcycle ride.

The popularity of ride-sharing soared rapidly among Nepalese consumers and providers alike. Reports even surfaced about riders earning up to one lakh Nepali rupees in a single month—prompting some to abandon traditional employment in favor of full-time participation in the ride-sharing economy.

However, this rapid growth was not without problems. Incidents of scams, muggings, and even fatalities began to emerge. The rise of ride-sharing ignited protests from taxi drivers' unions and similar groups. Conflicts escalated to such an extent that stationary motorcyclists were targeted and assaulted merely for checking their phones by the roadside. Amidst these tensions and public safety concerns, the government deemed ride-sharing illegal in 2019 due to a lack of a specific regulatory act.

Public outcry ensued following the ban on ride-sharing services. A pervasive legal debate arose: Was ride-sharing lawful? An existing governmental act said it wasn't. The populace pushed for legislative reform, which culminated in the Patan High Court's decree for the regulation and legalization of ride-sharing in 2020.

Today's Nepal boasts several ride-sharing applications catering to versatile commuter needs. Amongst them is JumJum—the newest entry—alongside other established platforms like Indrive, Pathao, Tootle (under new management), Sajilo Taxi Service, Taximandu, and eDrive Nepal.