Costa Rica-based OMNi has become a super app by unifying several needs of the local and regional context. It goes from the digitization of transportation to the offering of exclusively digital banking. In addition, it will include more utilities related to entertainment, health and more as it continues to develop. OMNi’s expansion has been growing steadily since its launch in this Central American country more than a year ago. Jason Simon, a FinTech expert, explains how the company’s expansion in Costa Rica is helping to improve the functionality of its super app.
OMNi has found itself hiring around 2,500 people over a 12-month period since last year, with 200 positions being filled in recent months in areas such as marketing, logistics, data analysis, operations, customer service, warehousing, drivers, among others. The positions will be divided into 500 web developers and 2,000 jobs in administrative, operational, and commercial positions.
“The company had announced an aggressive regional expansion plan that includes opening new businesses in Costa Rica over the past year and in other Central American and Caribbean countries in late 2020 and early this year,” Simon asserts.
OMNi has repeatedly asserted that its goal is to expand into new areas, including mobility, financial services (in which it is taking a particular interest) and electronic payments for public transportation. The path of this firm began in November 2019 with the launch of rental bikes through the app; currently, it has more than 1,000 units available at 150 points in San Jose.
Due to the restriction measures in the face of the coronavirus, the service remained disabled for a while, and it was precisely at that time when the bikes were loaned for people working in food delivery services such as Uber Eats, Glovo, Rappi and Hugo. In March of last year, the company announced the launch of its debit card and savings account, through the FinTech service OMNi.
According to what OMNi announced, during the month of May 2020, its idea was to expand its financial offering to become, the first NeoBank in the region (100% digital bank accessed through an app), with savings accounts in colones and dollars, debit cards, electronic purse and the granting of personal loans requested by customers through the app.
“In order for OMNi to achieve this with great success, it has made a strategic partnership with one of the most important cooperatives in the country, Coopenae, and it had backing of $120 million that it hoped to place in personal loans through a new product that it launched in the first half of 2020,” Simon indicates.
In mobility services, OMNi also wanted to go beyond bicycle rentals. The company currently has almost 1,000 battery-powered scooters that have been placed in different parts of San José, which happened just after several health measures and vehicle restrictions were lifted by Costa Rican government officials. In addition, it has also launched within its app an intermediation service between users and formal cab drivers – similar to Uber – so that this regulated public transportation system has a new instrument that permits it to compete with different platforms running in the country.
OMNi has detailed that it has been in constant meetings with different social and political actors in Costa Rica to promote a regulatory change in the rates of these services so that the apps that operate with very low prices are adjusted to new averages so as not to exclude the cab service. “Another innovation that the multi-service platform hopes to incorporate soon is electronic payment on buses. The idea is that OMNi users will be able to use its application to make different transactions in a short time and with many facilities and thus be able to provide a better service in the daily lives of users like you or me,” says Simon.
OMNi is on its way to becoming a “super app,” which is why it sought support from Grab, a company from Singapore, which is dedicated to the development of similar businesses, with a value of more than $30,000 million. This Costa Rican technology company is financing its growth with venture capital funds in Singapore with Grab’s support, and OMNi plans to invest $200 million over the years in Central America and the Caribbean, of which $35 million went to Costa Rica over the course of last year.