The RYDE app on mobile devices. Photo: rydesharing.com
Founder says ‘opportune time’ in wake of Grab’s acquisition of Uber in South-east Asia; experts say Ryde will have a tough fight on its hands
SINGAPORE — Amid concerns that Grab’s recent acquisition of Uber’s regional business could pave the way for a monopoly in the private-hire car and taxi industries, homegrown carpooling app Ryde Technologies announced on Wednesday (March 28) it would launch a new private-hire car service in a few weeks.
While plans to expand beyond carpooling and taxi-booking services have been in the works for months, Ryde’s founder and chief executive Terence Zou told TODAY the Grab-Uber merger gave it an “opportune time” to enter and fill a gap in the market.
“We are of the view that the market needs competition, and we have been waiting for the right time to enter the market and this is it,” said Mr Zou.
“We need at least two to three ride-hailing platforms for commuters to choose (from) and competition would be good for the companies.”
Under its ride-hailing service called RydeX – which could feature scheduled services allowing users to book rides in advance – the firm said that it will take a smaller commission of 10 per cent from drivers, instead of the 20 to 30 per cent charged by other players.
The savings will be passed on to commuters in the form of lower fares and higher earnings for drivers, he said.
“We want to build a transparent and equitable model rather than slashing prices because that will not be sustainable,” said Mr Zou, adding that there is a need to ensure the model is “robust”.
Charging a lower commission does not mean that the firm is employing a price-slashing strategy to compete with Grab, said Mr Zou, who hopes about 5,000 private-hire drivers will sign up in the coming weeks for “critical mass” before the service is launched.
The company plans to run a marketing campaign and Mr Zou said those keen to sign up could do so through its app.
According to him, Ryde has over 55,000 drivers, including 15,000 ComfortDelGro taxi drivers, to cater to the daily commute of over 300,000 passengers in Singapore.
Last May, Ryde announced it was teaming up with ComfortDelGro – the largest taxi operator – to offer a new taxi-booking service after it received the Third Party Taxi Booking certificate from the Land Transport Authority.
Transport analysts said Ryde’s plan was hardly surprising.
But the company will have a “tough fight” on its hands to challenge the dominance of Grab, which had personnel fanning out to hawker centres and other locations islandwide in the early days to get taxi drivers, users and others to sign up.