I posted an article earlier this past week documenting the quasi taxi service UBER, which is used around the developed world in large urban areas. UBER is not legally a taxi service, but rather a market intermediary that matches drivers with customers looking for a ride. The main substance of that article dealt with the lash back that the company, UBER, was receiving from cab unions in every major city from LA to London. UBER was receiving threats from taxi unions because UBER drivers do not have to become licensed as a taxi company/driver and yet still compete and steal business from taxi (acting in essentially the same facet as taxi drivers). Many people are of the idea that if something can be done, then it will be copied and done at a lower cost in China, this holds true only to an extent with UBER.
China has now seen the emergence of several cab hailing apps that remind the average city-dweller of UBER, but which is altogether different and its own thing. Chinese cab drivers have had a notoriously difficult time making a suitable living historically in the large cities of China. The cab drivers would have to work incredibly long hours under poor working conditions just to make enough money for themselves and their family. However, with the emergence of technology and the ubiquitous use of smartphones, cab hailing phone applications have changed the lives of taxi drivers and taxi riders around all of China. There are several apps currently hot in China right now for hailing a cab, which allow customers to ask for a cab from their phone and incentivize the driver with a decent tip. The service was also used as a bargaining chip to leverage the government into increasing the minimum cab fare for taxi’s in China. These apps are unlike UBER in that they help consumers hail actual taxi’s as opposed to some independent third party companies cars like those of UBER. For this reason, Chinese cab drivers love these app services, so much in fact that the government is having to step in because it is giving some drivers too much of an upper hand with consumers. I was interested and happy to read this article as it shows how technology and innovation can be applied across the globe to help make the lives of consumers and producers alike.
Source: The Economist: China: Cab Fair (Getting Around) May 17th-23rd