Uber launches taxi app in Singapore; joins number of other apps already in market

Frustrated commuters who struggle to hail a taxi during peak hours can now turn to UberTaxi, which was launched on Monday. -- PHOTO: UBER
Frustrated commuters who struggle to hail a taxi during peak hours can now turn to UberTaxi, which was launched on Monday. -- PHOTO: UBER

SINGAPORE - Frustrated commuters who struggle to hail a taxi can now turn to another taxi-booking app - UberTaxi - launched on Monday.

Passengers who use UberTaxi will get a 25 per cent discount if they manage to book a cab on this app from now until Sept 30. Fares will be charged according to rates set by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and charged to commuters' credit cards, said Uber in a press release.

Uber, the San Francisco-based parent company of UberTaxi, started operations in Singapore last year to provide car-sharing services and joins an increasingly crowded taxi app market with Easy Taxi and GrabTaxi already in the fray in a market that stands out for its volume. Singapore has about one million ridership daily, one of the highest in the world, according to previous media reports.

Uber operates in about 40 countries across the world and has sparked controversy in some places with its car-sharing services and fuss-free payment methods.

Earlier in September, Germany blocked its app pending a court case and South Korea's capital city Seoul is reportedly mulling over a ban.

In Singapore, third party apps used to book taxis are currently not regulated but LTA is reviewing their impact on the industry.

Uber has also faced angry protests by cab drivers in countries including France and the United States, who fear it is chipping away at their client base.

Its simple payment method - which charges fares to users' credit cards registered on the app - has also raised eyebrows in India.

The South Asian country's reserve bank has clarified in August that all transactions involving credit cards issued in India for goods or services in the country must have an additional authentication system at each point of sale.