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WeChat set to launch on-demand courier service in SA

This is interesting. WeChat, the Tencent-owned mobile social and instant messaging service, is set to launch an on-demand courier service in South Africa.

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While the service, called PicUp, is yet to be formally announced its website is live.

In many respects, the service is similar to other on-demand delivery providers. You set the pick up and delivery addresses, describe the kind of package being picked up (making it easier to determine what kind of vehicle should be used), and provide any other information which might help the courier find you. Once the package has been picked up, you can track it and pay as soon as delivery’s been made. Also like many other on-demand delivery services, you’ll be able to do so from your smartphone.

Unlike a great many of those services, you won’t be doing it from within a dedicated app. Instead, all that functionality is built into Picup’s WeChat account.

The service will enter a space that’s heating up pretty rapidly in South Africa. Launched in 2014, Cape Town-based WumDrop has already secured funding and expanded into Johannesburg. And while ride-hailing service Uber hasn’t expanded its on-demand courier service to South Africa, the delivery promotions it’s catered to on special occasions suggests that it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Unlike any other South African delivery service though, PicUp has the might of Naspers behind it. The multi-billion dollar emerging markets internet and media giant has a large stake in WeChat parent company Tencent and runs the service in the country.

Read More: From diapers to grilled cheese: WumDrop’s curious on-demand courier service takes on SA

Picup will make its deliveries using a combination of bicycles (some of which appear to be electric), scooters and cars.

Another interesting feature of the service is that it appears to be targeting members of the public to come onboard as drivers. “Whether you are a student or pensioner, housewife or small-fleet owner, entrepreneur, full-time rider or anyone in-between, it pays to drive for Picup,” the service says on its recruitment page.

All you need, it says, is “a reliable vehicle, scooter, motorbike or bicycle an Android-enabled smartphone, zest for life and passion for service delivery.”

In this regard, it appears to be borrowing from micro-jobbing service M4Jam. After a high-profile launch in mid-2014, the startup attracted investment from WeChat in February this year.

Picup’s founding team include Antonio Bruni, who previously founded property video marketing platform Property Tube and Grant Isaacs who, in addition to owning Cape Town sushi restaurant Salushi, was a professional squash player and has experience in the advertising and telecoms space.

Picup’s media launch date is set for 16 April.

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