Uber X may have stopped its services in Korea, but there are still plenty of options available. The demand for services that connect passengers to drivers is even greater, giving opportunities for new services to emerge.
With smartphones making it possible for people to easily reserve ride-services, traditional cab drivers feel threats to their businesses. Protests by cab driver unions are one of the main reasons why Uber X was not able to succeed in Seoul. Yet, companies like Daum Kakao partner directly with these taxi drivers to provide services satisfying for both the drivers and the passengers. Seeing an opportunity for growth, many companies are beginning to launch similar mobile call taxi apps.
On Mar. 31, Kakao Taxi officially began its services. Users simply download the Kakao Taxi app for passengers and log in using their Kakao account. The service is not much different from Uber and other taxi apps, but it distinguishes itself with the fact that passengers can request for rides anywhere in South Korea. In order to service all areas of the country, Daum Kakao partnered with the National Taxi Association and other groups to make this possible.
In order to address the safety issues posed by Uber X, Kakao Taxi hides passengers’ phone numbers on the drivers’ phones. When a driver calls a passenger via the Kakao Taxi app for drivers, the passenger’s number shows up in a form of a “safety number,” protecting the passenger’s privacy. Any messages sent between the driver and passenger only exist within the app, incidentally limiting the messages to generic messages like “arriving in 5 minutes,” “waiting at the pick up location,” and such.
On Apr. 3, Daum Kakao announced that the Kakao Taxi app will integrate GPS navigation system, Kim Gisa, to both the driver and passenger apps. Once the driver received a request from a passenger, he or she presses “Use Kim Gisa to navigate” button to find the passenger. Such addition eliminates the inconvenience of the passenger having to type in their location. Instead, the integrated GPS system finds it.
The Kim Gisa navigation tool will be available on Google Play and for those who have already installed the Kakao Taxi app, a simple update is needed. One caveat is that the Kim Gisa app has to be installed on the user’s mobile device.
Launched in February, Limo Taxi gained much popularity since its beta service launched in November 2014. The selling point for Limo Taxi is that the passengers can pick and choose the car and the driver. Other features include sharing locations with friends, making reservations, and a rewards system.
SK Planet also launched a mobile call taxi app, T-Map Taxi. The mobile application for passengers is not yet available, but on Mar. 30, the app for drivers was launched. Similar to Kakao Taxi for drivers, registered cab drivers register with their cab licenses and birthday. SK Planet plans to launch the app for the passengers and officially start the service on April 14 .
On Mar. 30, Three Line Technologies, Inc. launched premium call taxi service Baek Gisa, or “Driver Baek”. Using the passenger’s current location, he or she can easily call for a ride simply with one touch on the smartphone app. When requesting a ride, a passenger can send messages like “with a child”, “lots of luggage”, and “need a quiet ride” to the driver for more personalized rides. Passengers can also send their ride information to friends and leave reviews on their most recent rides to rate drivers. Baek Gisa app is currently only available for Android devices. The iOS version will become available sometime in April.