[Update, 8 Oct 2018] Today, ComfortDelGro Corp announced that it has partnered with Finland’s MaaS Global to launch a new service called Whim.
As a quick recap, Whim will be an app that gives commuters “instant access to a variety of transport services based on subscription – essentially acting as the ‘Netflix of transport'”.
It is currently being used in countries like Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, and the UK.
In Britain, Whim users can opt for a £349 (S$632) a month subscription that gives them unlimited access to taxis, car rentals and public transport.
Said Mr Ang Wei Neng, chief executive of ComfortDelGro Singapore Taxi Business, “The integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility application provides a seamless digital offering for our customers to enhance their travel experience.”
Added MaaS Global co-founder, Mr Kaj Pyyhtiä, “We are proud to start our operations in Singapore with the most progressive partners. We feel that this is the perfect way to enter the Asian markets and make mobility-as-a-service available in the region.”
Since the entrance of Uber and Grab, similar transport services have popped up trying to get a share of that new market they have created.
At first, I thought that the idea of getting taxis through an app wouldn’t work because firstly, I had the misconception that it’s more expensive, and secondly, I thought that it would only be a fad.
Well, I turned out to be wrong. (No prizes for guessing who is now an avid Grab user…)
With the appearance of these companies, more and more innovative enterprises are rising up, providing unique services in a changing industry or disrupting a current one.
On Monday, 18 September, at the Emerging Smart and Clean City Solutions conference held at the Huone Events Hotel, Finnish company MaaS Global announced their new transport service app, Whim, that is set to come to the little red dot by early 2018.
Introducing The ‘Mobility-as-a-Service’ Model
So MaaS Global is named after the Mobility-as-a-Service model and it wants to give “people instant access to virtually every kind of transport”.
It is bound to be released in the United Kingdom very soon.
What the Whim app does is it allows commuters to use all forms of public transport – taxis, buses, trains, rental cars and “possibly even bicycles can be aggregated on the app”, according to Channel NewsAsia.
Co-founder of MaaS Global Kaj Pyyhtiä put it into simpler terms for us
An easy way to imagine it is as the Netflix or Spotify of transportation.
In a way, Mr Pyyhtiä said that they want to change the way people think about car ownership – that if every type of transportation is easily available, then there would be no need for a car.
Sampo Hietanen, CEO and Founder of MaaS Global (a.k.a. “the father of the MaaS concept”) said that the “app syncs with the users’ calendar, helping plan journeys in advance” and it lets commuters get to where they want “at the press of a button – literally on a whim”.
How I understand this is that it’s like a Japan Rail Pass on a subscription basis, and this pass lets the commuter use any form of transport available in the country or city.
Or how another of my colleague put it, “it’s like a concession pass” but for all the available kinds of transportation when it comes to Singapore.
In their latest press release, MaaS Global announced that they have concluded a funding round, raising about S$23 million.
Previous major investors, Toyota and Aioi Nissay Dowa, also participated in this round.
New investors include Japanese car technology firm DENSO Corporation and Turkish tech service firm Swiftcom.
The company aims to transform cities into “car-free zones”, and states that Singapore is “the perfect place to enter the Asian market” because of how we are seen as a “tech and business hub”.
Commute On A Whim
There are two ways to pay on Whim: one, with a monthly subscription fee, or two, pay-as-you-use.
The monthly subscription packages have a range of prices to suit the commuters’ needs, and they are the Whim Basic, Whim Go, and Whim Business.
The Whim app also lets commuters rent cars with its Whim Car service.
Should this be brought to Singapore, will we see another car-rental frenzy amongst private car rental companies?
I think that with successful implementation, Whim can become a universal transport app that even travellers can use seamlessly with the package they bought at home. But only time will tell.
With such a grand blueprint, we wonder how will they integrate it with all the transport companies?
It will encourage the use of public transport, which means cleaner cities with less traffic jams. There’s huge business potential for transport providers, too, as more convenient mobility will bring them more customers. Our aim is to join forces with as many providers as possible, because together we’ll be able to offer and amazing service.
In the report, it said that MaaS Global “hopes that local companies will be transparent with their interface, payment systems and database” for smooth integration.
The efficiency of the implementation can only be counted upon those who are willing to participate.
However, with the rising costs of public transportation in Singapore, I’m not sure if Whim in Singapore will be as competitive as it makes up to be.
What do you think?
For the laughs, I took the Whim quiz which you can take also to find out what kind of commuter you are. I got:
Featured Image Credit: Ministry of Transport