Two months after Uber rolled its app-connected limo service into Hong Kong, the US-based startup is today launching UberTaxi in the city. This allows people to grab a conventional, licensed Hong Kong cab – and pay for it via a cash-less transaction – within the Uber app.
While Uber’s limos are available in over 20 cities in Asia-Pacific, this is only the company’s third rollout of UberTaxi in the region. It’s long been operating in Sydney, Australia, and earlier this month it also popped up in Tokyo.
Today’s launch of UberTaxi in Hong Kong is a direct challenge to EasyTaxi, the biggest taxi app in Asia – if not the world. EasyTaxi already operates in close to 20 Asian cities. Joon Chan, EasyTaxi’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, tells Tech in Asia that the service already has 185,000 licensed cabbies signed up around the world, of whom about 55,000 are in Asia. EasyTaxi is backed by Rocket Internet and its billion-dollar war chest.
UberTaxi is also a threat to Malaysia-based startup GrabTaxi, which is battling EasyTaxi in half a dozen Asian cities.
Uber’s post about this new UberTaxi launch explains that the app will follow the same regulated fares as regular taxis in Hong Kong and there will be no booking fees or additional charges to riders. We’ve contacted Uber for more details on how it’ll make money in Hong Kong and how many cabbies are on board. (Update: Uber’s Sam Gellman declined to say how many HK taxis are using this. He says Uber “decided to start with the pricing that riders and drivers are accustomed to [with regular city cabs],” which suggests the lack of additional fees is temporary).