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European Uber rival Bolt raises greater than $ 180 million for A.I. journey

A stud driver in Krakow, Poland.

Beata Zawrzel | NurPhoto via Getty Images

LONDON – Bolt, a European competitor to hail giant Uber, said Wednesday it had raised € 150 million to improve the security of its platform through facial recognition and artificial intelligence.

The Estonia-based company declined to disclose its valuation, but said it made use of the € 1.7 billion ($ 2.1 billion) it received after issuing € 100 million convertible bonds in May was worth increasing.

Bolt's final round of funding was led by D1 Capital Partners, the hedge fund of American billionaire Daniel Sundheim. Darsana Capital Partners, another hedge fund, also invested.

Bolt said it would use the money to upgrade its security features and help it expand its hail, electric bike, and scooter rental and grocery delivery services. The company's app now has more than 50 million users in over 40 countries in Europe and Africa.

"In 2021, we will double as the industry leader in terms of platform security and quality," said Markus Villig, CEO of Bolt, in a statement.

"We plan to bring even more innovative solutions such as driver face verification and automatic driving monitoring to the market. This uses machine learning to prevent potential incidents and to provide our customers with the best possible service."

Ride-hail services were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic this year. Uber reported two quarters of declining revenue and accumulated losses of $ 5.8 billion for the year to date.

The demand for ridesharing fell off a cliff as government lockdown measures forced consumers to stay indoors. However, Uber has benefited from increasing demand for grocery delivery services.

Bolt, which is backed by German automaker Daimler and Chinese hailfighter Didi Chuxing, also saw sales decline as coronavirus restrictions tightened across Europe. In March, the company's revenue fell 75% from the previous month.

But Bolt claims it has been a good year thanks to investing in newer product lines like scooters and grocery delivery. The company launched a new e-scooter model earlier this month and is committed to investing € 100 million in rolling out scooters to more markets.

"Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bolt has seen immense growth over the past year," said Villig. "We have almost doubled our customer base and launched our services in 50 new cities, from hail shipping to micro-mobility and food delivery."

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