When Uber left Singapore in May this year (RIP, Uber), a number of companies promise to keep the private-hire car industry competitive by announcing their entry into this loss-making market (or so I thought).
First, we have Jugnoo from India. The app came online in Singapore on 1 May 2018, but nothing much has been mentioned about them since then. Unlike other ride-hailing app, Jugnoo works on a unique system: it allows riders to “bid” for a price instead of giving them a fixed one. We couldn’t find much information about them since then.
Next, we have Filo, a local start-up. The company takes 12% commission and caps it at $400 a month. A check on its Facebook Page shows that its last post was on 13 June 2018. Its Google Play Store app has over 1,000 downloads – and just for your info, that would translate to a download of 1,000 to 5,000.
According to our own data (from our app), iOS would have about 30% more downloads than Google Play.
Lest you’re not aware, there’s also KARDI: founded locally and allegedly “created by local drivers and ex staff of ride hailing apps”, the company promises payment every 48 hours instead of the usual market period of one week, and a commission of 12%.
Media reports stated that it would be live on 5 June 2018, but a check on their Facebook Page indicate a launch date of 1 August 2018; that’s a few days from now. A check on their Google Play Store shows a download of 1,000+, which is similar to Filo.
And of course, we have RydeX: according to a Today report, it made 2,000 trips on the day it went live on 2 May 2018. Taking only 10% commission, the firm claims to have signed up more than 10,000 private-hire drivers, and just released an on-demand feature last week (previously, riders have to book 10 minutes in advance).
There are about 22,000 licensed private-hire drivers in Singapore, so 10,000 is almost 50% of the market. Prior to 1 July 2018, there were 42,900 drivers, but almost half of them didn’t take (or pass) the mandatory vocational licence, so they would no longer be able to drive private hire since the beginning of this month.
There’s one more contender: Go-Jek, known to be the competitor that has the financial muscle to take on Grab. They have yet to enter the market but has expressed interest in Singapore, and are rumoured to work with Comfort, the largest taxi company in Singapore.
But if you remember, back in May when news of companies wanting to enter the market came every few days, there’s one that promises 0% commission for its driver: MVL.
Well, they’re here.
MVL Launches Tada
If you think Tada means…ta-da!, then you’re wrong. Its CEO, Kay Woo, says “Tada” means “Let’s ride” in Korean.
MVL, also known as Mass Vehicle Ledger Foundation, is one of the companies that promises to enter the private-hire car industry when Uber left. Back then, MVL had already suggested a 0% commission system that uses blockchain to keep logs of rides.
There is, however, a 3.4% charge that is used to maintain its credit card payment platform.
With 2,000 licensed drivers so far, the fare is cheaper, at $2.30, compared to Grab’s base fee of $2.50 and RydeX’s minimum fee of $8.
Pricing will be in two forms: one is fixed price and the other is metered pricing, sort of like taxis.
There is also no “Acceptance” and “Cancellation” rate, the thingy that’ve caused numerous disputes between riders and drivers (though we understand it’s necessary to prevent abuse of the system).
According to its CEO, the reason is to “create a community where drivers and riders are treated as equal members. We don’t want to see them arguing over cancellations for instance…If you don’t do well, there will be no incentives but if you do, you get more. By doing so, we hope to create a positive reinforcing environment.”
Hmm… in other words, it’s carrot over stick.
So, what are these incentives? That’s when the blockchain thingy comes into play.
Points for Drivers & Riders
For drivers, when they drive, they’ll automatically get points as long as the MVL app is on. If they drive safer, they would get more points.
For riders, when they provide additional data, like reviews, they would also get points.
These points can be converted into what is known as MVL coins, which can be cashed out or used to redeemed goods and services.
Now, if you’re confused, just think of MVL coins as Bitcoins; but of course, they won’t be as valuable, as each MVL coin is worth USD$0.005 as of yesterday afternoon, while a Bitcoin is worth USD$7,920 today.
Has funding of SGD$22 million
So, how does the company make money?
For a start, the two-month-old start-up has 36 employees, and it is using a “non-profit” model. In the future, the data they’ve collected from the point system could be sold to researchers or related transport company.
The company has raised SGD$22 million in an initial coin offering (think of it like an IPO, just that instead of selling company shares, it’s selling cyber coins).
Think about it: if the price of the coins increase, MVL will also earn from appreciation.
I’m not sure about you, but the technology side of the company has confused me; all I know is that if it’s cheap, have many drivers and I can get from Point A to B safety, I’m all in.
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