Tech

There’s a new, cheaper competitor to Uber launching in London today

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Dave Fawbert
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There is, seemingly, so much wrong with Uber isn’t there?

Back in January, I wrote at length on the many worrying crises that the company has been embroiled in; since that was published, Uber launched two investigations into its culture, fired 20 employees and saw a bunch of executives leave, including – eventually – the much-criticised CEO Travis Kalanick, who is now embroiled in a fraud case with an Uber investor.

So perhaps this is the perfect time for a competitor to launch into the London market which, despite all the above, is still dominated by Uber.

Taxify is a company founded by 23-year-old Estonian university dropout Markus Villig which launched in his home country before expanding to 19 other markets in Africa and eastern Europe. So far, it hasn’t attempted to launch in Western Europe, but now, armed with funding from the Chinese ‘ride-sharing giant’ Didi Chuxing, it’s entering the battleplace today (Tuesday 5 September).

It’s offering a 50% discount on fares during September in order to entice people in to downloading its app.

How is it different? Well, unlike Uber, you can pay with cash. And, for now at least, a journey is considerably cheaper than Uber – a fare from Aldgate East to Angel station came in at an astonishing £4.35 on Taxify, compared to £16 on Uber X.

And, importantly, Taxify have pledged to treat their drivers better and to take lower commission – seemingly 10-15% rather than Uber’s 20-25%.

Taxify

Hmmm, really reminds us of another app, U... Ub... no can't quite put our finger on it

Villig told Business Insider: "It mainly comes down to experience. We're in 19 countries successfully. It's not like we're coming here and don't really know what we're doing. We've seen that in the long term, these lower prices make sense. And in the long term if drivers are happy, there's a better customer experience and it leads to us having a higher customer retention."

He also revealed that every Taxify driver registered in London so far had met the local London team and undergone 30 minutes of training, while there are safety features inside the app, such as sharing your location with a friend.

Also, according to Villig, the company hasn’t raised loads of cash from outside investors to grow, so isn’t under any pressure to bring in profits and repay them. Didi Chuxing is the one exception to that, and they may be taking a more long-term view in order to compete – or they might be hoping to earn their cash if Uber ends up being forced, Facebook-style, to buy up their competitor.

Time will tell whether they offer a better service than Uber, but we’ll at least be giving it a go for half-price September.

(Image: iStock)

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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