Easy Taxi, a taxi booking app with presence in around Southeast Asia, has just announced that it will be waiving all charges for taxi drivers and passengers in Singapore.
Specifically, from today onwards, passengers taking rides booked through Easy Taxi will no longer need to pay a booking fee. Drivers will not pay any commission to Easy Taxi.
Easy Taxi started its Singapore operations in December 2013. It currently has a fleet of 6,000 taxis and 50,000 regular users in Singapore.
The company is analyzing 90,000 data points it has collected since the Singapore operations started, to not only understand the taxi markets in Singapore, but also to better match the demand and supply of taxis.
“We believe a lot in Singapore market and that is why we are investing a lot here. We are building a marketplace with freedom of choice for both taxi drivers and passengers in Singapore. Going completely free shows our commitment. Easy Taxi will provide freedom of choice, convenience and better taxi experience. It will also make people less dependent on cars, making smoother Singapore roads smoother and better environment for everyone,” says Tallis Gomes, Founder and Co-CEO of Easy Taxi, on a visit to Singapore on Saturday 15 March 2013.
Originally founded in Brazil, Easy Taxi claims to be the biggest taxi booking app in the world, operating in 123 cities in 27 countries. Easy Taxi is used by more than 120,000 taxis and more than 5 million passengers. The company employs 1300 people globally.
The move to make taxi booking free on its app officially heats up the competition among taxi apps in Singapore. While the population is small, the country primarily rely on public transportation to get around.
So you may ask, if Easy Taxi is not charging customers or the taxis for using their service, how does it generate revenue?
While there are no official statement from the company, and it is highly unlikely that it will introduce any in app purchases, Easy Taxi might be hoping to acquire as many customers as possible from Singapore. With them onboard and when they travel around the region, they can also use Easy Taxi to book the taxis in the country. Taxi bookings through the app comes with a small fee in other countries.
As we enter into the mobile age, everything we do will soon be powered by that little device you bring along with you everyday. From checking the weather to scheduling your meetings, checking in to your favourite restaurants to calling a taxi, there is an abundant of apps available that can help you achieve what you want.
Tug of war between taxi booking apps, and what the government says
In Singapore, other than Easy Taxi, several other apps such as GrabTaxi, MoobiTaxi, Taximonger, as well as Uber are competing against the official taxi vendor booking app Taxi Booking (by ComfortDelGro) to own the limited real estate you have on your smartphone.
For now, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has no issues with third-party booking apps — recognising the widespread use of smartphones — but it made clear that taxi drivers using these apps cannot collect fares which exceed what their companies have set.
Earlier in November, Singapore’s second-largest cab operator TransCab General Manager Jasmine Tan was concerned that they as the operator could be penalised by the LTA under the Quality of Service (QoS) framework if its drivers are not responsive to its dispatch system, she said. This is especially the case as cab drivers now have an option to respond directly to taxi booking apps such as Easy Taxi. Ms Tan added that TransCab will work with GrabTaxi if the app is integrated with its dispatch system.