THE INC. LIFE

Philippine Taxi-hailing App Micab Adds 5,000 Taxis

It chooses to partner with taxis and their drivers rather than private vehicles

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 04 Oct 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Unlike most ride-hailing services the world over, Micab chooses to partner with taxis and their drivers rather than private vehicles.

Because of this unique approach, founder and CEO Eddie F. Ybañez feels he is addressing a need in the market for their users. These are people who would prefer to ride a taxi as their first choice of transportation but who also care about safety, convenience, and affordability.

“People use TNC (transport network companies) not because they like it but mostly because they don't have any other choices with the current duopoly. We want to be that choice. With Micab, people can expect a neat car and a clean driver,” Ybañez says.

Micab was founded in the southern province of Cebu, and it’s been operating there and in Iloilo for the past two years in what Ybañez says was basically “stealth mode.” They have been encouraged by the numbers and positive feedback from customers and taxi companies.

In a recent launching ceremony in Cebu on September 19, for example, Micab announced a partnership with Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association (MCTOA), which operates over 5,000 cabs all over the city.

“We are pleased to have one of the country’s largest taxi associations on our team. This is one more step towards attaining our dream of offering convenient, easy, safe, and anxiety-free commuting to the public,” says Ybañez.

Though Micab is the only ride-hailing company operating in the Philippines that was founded here, Ybañez feels this does not necessarily give them an advantage over their international competitors.

“Until now we don’t really see a clear advantage for being a Filipino company. If you stay long enough and study your market, you can easily understand the local culture and expectations from Filipino customers,” he says, adding that while this may be the case, they do take pride in being the only ride-hailing company made by Filipinos for the Philippines.

Rather than focus on the origins or ownership of Micab, Ybañez tries to focus on what he feels differentiates their platform from those of competitors.

“Low booking fee, zero price surge, a virtuous ecosystem between drivers, passengers, and owners. Micab is on a mission to have a meaningful social impact on the life of millions of people living in the Philippines. We always strive to push the boundaries of digital inclusion to bring a win-win solution to customers and partners,” he says.

Micab has been aggressive in promoting this value proposition to their target users.

“Regarding marketing and acquisition among other things we use social media, viral marketing and beautiful brand ambassadors to present Micab to riders, with live activation accounts in mall and office locations,” he says.

Micab is in the process of expanding into Metro Manila, but the move is not without its difficulties. Ybañez says that they have a hard time convincing local taxi companies that Micab was the right partner for them in the competitive on-demand, ride-hailing landscape.

“[The] reason [why] taxi companies were very suspicious about our intentions [is] because they had experienced in the past a very painful lesson when one of the TNC's entering the Filipino market had promised taxi company owners that they will be a part of their ecosystem while later they were traded for private cars,” he says.

After successfully onboarding partner fleets in Metro Manila, Micab team members have started conducting a Driver Extensive Training Program, which aims to teach drivers to provide excellent customer service.

Many in the public sphere frame Micab as locked into a battle with Grab and Uber, whose operations were recently suspended in the Philippines, but Ybañez prefers to avoid the fray.

“As much as possible, Micab is staying away from this political saga and the excess of craziness on social media. My 2-cent observation is everyone and especially every company operating from the Philippines must be law-abiding,” he says.