Taxi app raises Uber ire in S. Korea

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

South Korea’s top mo­bile mes­sen­ger op­er­a­tor launched a new web- based cab- hail­ing ser­vice Tues­day to com­pete with Cal­i­for­nia- based Uber, whose ser­vice has been sub­jected to crack­downs from state reg­u­la­tors.

Daum Kakao, which claims some 50 mil­lion ac­tive monthly users, has taken var­i­ous steps to avoid the pit­falls en­coun­tered by Uber, in­clud­ing us­ing only reg­is­tered taxi driv­ers for its ser­vice called KakaoTaxi.

Tues­day’s lauch was for An­droid users, with an iOS ver­sion sched­uled for re­lease in April.

Uber started its ser­vice in South Korea in 2013 but im­me­di­ately ran into op­po­si­tion, with taxi driv­ers protest­ing what they saw as a threat to their hoods.

Its use of non- reg­is­tered driv­ers trig­gered a se­ries of law­suits from mu­nic­i­pal and state of­fi­cials.

Last De­cem­ber state pros­e­cu­tors in­dicted Uber’s Amer­i­can founder and CEO Travis Kalan­ick and his Korean part­ner for op­er­at­ing an il­le­gal cab ser­vice.

The mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment in Seoul, mean­while, of­fered a one mil­lion won (US$920) re­ward for those who re­port cars of­fer­ing rides through the Uber ser­vice.

And the na­tional tele­coms watch­dog ruled that Uber Korea had failed to re­port its busi­ness and re­ceive of­fi­cial per­mis­sion be­fore pro­vid­ing its lo­ca­tion track­ing ser­vices.

KakaoTaxi has avoided such

liveli- prob­lems by forg­ing part­ner­ships with taxi as­so­ci­a­tions and a state- fi­nanced in­stant on­line pay­ment op­er­a­tor.

As a safety mea­sure it al­lows pas­sen­gers au­to­mat­i­cally to re­ceive the name and photo of a driver as well as ve­hi­cle in­for­ma­tion.

KakaoTaxi also has pri­vacy safe­guards such as an in- app mes­sag­ing sys­tem that au­to­mat­i­cally deletes chats af­ter a ride is com­pleted.

The ser­vice tracks the flow of com­muters in Seoul, which helps it fig­ure out where to deploy cabs. It also al­lows users to pay for rides with their sub­way passes.

There are about 280,000 reg­is­tered taxi driv­ers in South Korea.

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