Opera, the Norwegian browser developer, has introduced a new chat service called Hype.
The chat service is built into mobile web browser Opera Mini.
Kenya is the first country in the world to access Hype. Users can now set up their Hype accounts and start chats with secure end-to-end encryption.
Hype is seen in tech quarters as a secure alternative to the popular WhatsApp, whose updated terms and questions on privacy may see it lose subscribers in droves.
“Chat services and browsers are apps people use every day and feel very personal about,” said Charles Hamel, Product Lead for Hype. “With the integration of Hype in Opera Mini, we are not only rethinking what a chat service should be like in 2021, but also changing the very definition of what a mobile browser should be.”
In Kenya, an estimated 40 percent of the population has access to a smartphone. Seventy five percent of the country’s 47 million people is under 30 years old. “With such early adopter demographics at play, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya,” says Hamel. On top of that, we are also partnering with the leading telecommunication carriers in the country, offering free daily browsing to all Opera Mini users. We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”
Hype is offering users a series of stickers created by Kenyan artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitololo. The stickers reflect everyday expressions unique to Kenyans.
“These unique stickers with original designs are something we are very proud of at Opera as we become the first major browser to integrate real African art and pop culture into our products,” said Hamel.
Current messaging services were created almost a decade ago, and none of these has ever focused on having such a collaboration with local artists to make online conversations more engaging.
Opera was the first to integrate messenger services as part of their PC browser, in 2019. Today, its more than 80 million users enjoy the integration of services such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter.
The launch of Hype is a facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, with the goal of bringing more people online; since 2018, Opera has grown its user base in Africa by 40%.
Opera Mini was launched in 2006. It comes with unique features such as Data Compression, Offline File Sharing, and built-in Ad-blocker. Opera Mini also enables access to free ebooks through the Worldreader speed dial, and the music catalogue of the Kenyan music-streaming service, Mdundo. Users can stream or download music through the Opera Mini browser.
Today, Opera Mini has more than 100 million users.