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Philippine Ride-hailing App Partners with Local Taxi Companies Amid Uber, Grab Issues

Micab aims to optimize the existing transport options in the Philippines

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BY Pauline Mendoza - 24 Jul 2017

Philippine ride-hailing app

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Starting July 26, the Philippine Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will apprehend Uber and Grab drivers who operate without a permit issued by the government. The two ride-sharing services were previously fined PHP5 million or almost $100,000 each for allowing their drivers to operate without government certificates. The LTFRB also suspended the licenses of new drivers and vehicles that will operate under Grab and Uber.

Micab is a ride-hailing app that has been operating in the southern provinces of Cebu and Iloilo for the past 2 years. The difference between this start-up and Grab or Uber is that it partners with local taxi companies instead of private car owners.

On July 20, it signed a partnership with two premium taxi operators in the Philippines—the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) and Association of Taxi Operations in Metro Manila (ATOMM)—aiming to optimize the existing transport options in the Philippines. These two operators account for over 20,000 taxis in Metro Manila.

“Earlier this year, we’ve started the negotiations to partner with these taxi operators—for us to enable them to provide better customer service, convenience using our platform,” says Eddie Ybañez, co-founder and CEO of Micab.

The taxi-hailing app aims to help improve the traffic situation in the Philippines by enhancing the operations of taxi drivers. “We want to offer the same convenience, the same safety, without using a private vehicle—with low booking fee (starts with PHP 50 or $1) and no price surge,” says David Vacher, senior advisor of Micab.

“In this country, people love Uber, Grab because there is no other alternative. The idea is to solve the traffic problem here in the Philippines. The answer is not to add more vehicles—it is to optimize the existing ones. Today the question is, we have over 20,000 taxis in the Philippines that are disorganized so our goal is to optimize the fleet and we’re going to do it with our application,” adds Vacher.

Just like other ride-hailing apps, Micab offers passengers and drivers a seamless ride-booking service. It has a call and chat system, built-in customer support ticketing system with human interaction, credit or debit card options for payment, passenger reward system, and an electronic wallet for payment and loyalty points for the driver. The tech start-up is also looking to have a one-push emergency button for passengers who feel threatened during the taxi ride.

Vacher shares his thoughts on services like Uber and Grab: “[T]hey are successful because they offer something that nobody was offering before. You can order a ride with their application. But we have a different business model. We do not work with drivers. We work with premium taxi companies—which is easier because we can enable them quicker. It is easier to talk to a taxi company with a ton of vehicles than talking to one driver.”

He says they will also be providing the drivers free tablets and free data. Free WiFi is also available for the passenger.

Micab is not included in the fines charged by LTFRB because it is a ride-hailing app that is working with the taxis that are already licensed to operate publicly.

With 600 taxis in Cebu and 200 in Iloilo, the tech start-up aims to launch the app in Metro Manila in two months and plans to ramp up operations at the end of the year with 7,000 Micab-enabled vehicles, adding 1,500 vehicles each month.