While the beta launch is next week, users in the country can already start using the app to book a cab either for an immediate pick-up or a scheduled ride.
But GrabTaxi‘s expansion into Singapore is no sure ticket to success. Unlike developing countries, Singapore has no shortage of taxi apps. In fact, each of the major cab companies, Comfort-Delgro, SMRT, and TransCab, have their own app. Then there are third-party players like MoobiTaxi and Uber, the latter of which has tons of cash to pay its fleet of limo drivers.
Furthermore, unlike drivers in neighboring Malaysia, where GrabTaxi’s parent company hails from, taxi drivers in Singapore play nice and don’t typically charge above the metered rate. So at first glance, users may have less incentive to use GrabTaxi, which supposedly keeps drivers on the straight and narrow with a review system for rating rides and drivers.
But the app’s features can help it stand out in the country. GrabTaxi is still one of a few taxi apps with a review system, and this could be added incentive for taxi drivers to perform well. Commuters can receive better assurance that the driver they pick is of a high standard.
There’s also a tipping feature, which further incentivizes taxi drivers to ramp up their service. This could be useful in Singapore, which faces chronic taxi shortages due to shift changes, peak times, or thunderstorms. So users who are willing to pay a little more could stand a better chance of getting a cab, as the extra cash may embolden drivers to pick up commuters when it’s more dangerous to drive in bad weather, for example.
I find that the app runs smoothly even on my old iPhone 4, and the sign-up and booking processes are pretty intuitive. Aesthetically speaking, I would rank it above the existing taxi apps and just a notch below Uber.
GrabTaxi takes a small cut of the fees for every booking made. On the backend, taxi drivers have a smartphone app that allows them to accept ride requests.
Since launching in Malaysia, the company has been expanding rapidly to the rest of Southeast Asia this year. It faces the most intense competition in its home country, with Hopcab, TaxiMonger, and Rocket Internet’s EasyTaxi getting into the fray.
To survive the competition, it could add the ability for seamless payment through the app, similar to what Uber offers. The app might, for instance, automatically deduct money from users’ bank account after they alight and issue an electronic receipt thereafter. That eliminates the fumbling for cash at the end of every taxi ride, and makes drivers more efficient.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz and Steven Millward)