Easy Taxi exits Singapore amid stiff competition

A visit by The Straits Times on Sept 16, 2015, to the company's listed address at CT Hub found the premises locked up, and nobody responded to the call system.
A visit by The Straits Times on Sept 16, 2015, to the company's listed address at CT Hub found the premises locked up, and nobody responded to the call system. ST PHOTO: ADRIAN LIM
Logo for Easy Taxi.
Logo for Easy Taxi.PHOTO: EASY TAXI

It plans to focus its efforts on Latin America, Middle East and Africa

Cab-booking app Easy Taxi has wound up its operations in Singapore due to stiff competition, The Straits Times has learnt.

While the Brazil-based start-up - which entered the market here in December 2013 - declined to reveal when it stopped operations, industry players said it was likely to have been late last month.

An Easy Taxi spokesman from Brazil would confirm only that the company was "scaling down operations in the region", after entering Asia two years ago.

SILENT DEPARTURE

They left without a sound and many drivers are not aware.

TAXI DRIVER ARMSTRONG HO, on Easy Taxi's closure

"Highly funded competition and market dynamics have led us to centre our efforts on selected core markets in Latin America, Middle East and Africa," he said.

Four other taxi-booking apps have been launched here in the last two years: GrabTaxi, Hailo, MoobiTaxi and Uber. They allow passengers to book taxis from any of Singapore's six operators and match cabbies with customers via location-based technology.

Since Easy Taxi started in 2012, it has received a total of US$77 million (S$108 million) from investors, but this figure is dwarfed by GrabTaxi's US$700 million and Uber's US$8 billion. The latter pair are big players in Asia.

A source said Easy Taxi is also looking to consolidate its stronghold in Latin America. There, it occupies over 80 per cent of the markets in Peru and Chile. The company also aims to stave off rival Uber, which many speculate will expand "aggressively" there.

In Singapore, Easy Taxi had at one point employed as many as 50 staff, with over 20,000 taxi drivers on its platform.

When The Straits Times visited its office at the CT Hub in Kallang Avenue on Wednesday, the premises were locked.

Meanwhile, cabbies said that early last month, Easy Taxi had began refunding them their driver credits. To use the app, taxi drivers need to have accounts with Easy Taxi, from which the firm deducts its commission of 30 cents for successful bookings.

Taxi driver Armstrong Ho, 47, said that late last month, he stopped receiving booking requests from the app.

He posted a comment on Easy Taxi's Facebook page but did not receive a reply.

"They left without a sound and many drivers are not aware," said Mr Ho, who added that Easy Taxi does not have a cancellation policy, unlike Hailo and Uber, which provide drivers with a $2 refund if a passenger cancels.

"I've had Easy Taxi passengers who cancelled their booking when I'd nearly reached the pick-up point. It's a waste of time," Mr Ho added.

Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) also said it has been informed of Easy Taxi's decision to stop operating in the Republic. In May, a Bill was passed requiring taxi app companies to register with the LTA and to comply with a regulatory framework.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'Easy Taxi exits S'pore amid stiff competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe