The ‘mobile social communication app’, WeChat, was launched in South Africa (and across the continent) towards the end of 2013 with much fanfair – who can forget the multiple flightings of the Lionel Messi – as would be expected from organisations the size of China’s Tencent and South Africa’s Naspers. I wrote something on this when I was still at Destiny Man magazine: WeChat Comes To Africa.

Since then, they have modified their approach in entrenching themselves on our mobile screens through strategic initiatives, like partnering with SA radio jock Gareth Cliff and his CliffCentral as well as investing in the micro-jobbing platform M4JAM (Money For Jam). Last week, they announced a partnership with Picup, an “on-demand goods collection and delivery service”, at an event in the Picup offices in Cape Town at the end of May.

The gap in the market lies in a more ‘instant’ courier service where traditional services take longer. They have positioned themselves to transport goods that weigh between 5kg and 30kg, using car, motorbikes or bicycles depending on the size. It’s convenient

To use it, you have to download WeChat, follow the PicupSA official account and register. To request collection, you simply enter the location to collection from and deliver to as well as which vehicle it would fit onto. It uses WeChat’s mapping feature to enable you to pinpoint locations. For payment, you can use the Wallet in WeChat or you can pay with credit card. There is a minimum base rate plus a per-kilometre charge.

Operating only in Cape Town Metropole right now, there are plans to expand into other cities. It will be interesting to see what the take-up is like in Cape Town, which works as a relatively controlled environment. Once you get into a city like Johannesburg, it becomes about how well and efficiently it can be scaled. I’m just going to have to wait till it comes to Joburg to use the R200 sitting in my WeChat e-Wallet.

Picup also has the potential to provide employment for drivers, who are “licensed, verified and fully trained”,  and change the way we view courier services within a city context. The small things we forget don’t have to be a thing anymore.


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