After announcing its India launch earlier this week, Rocket Internet’s taxi booking app, Easy Taxi is all set to take over Indonesia too. Currently, in a pre-launch phase in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the official launch announcement will be made later this month. The company has roped in investment strategist Usman Lodhi as the Country Manager.
Easy Taxi that was first launched in Brazil in April 2012, is available in more than 30 countries across the world. “Indonesia is one of the relatively later markets that we have entered. But it is also one of the markets that I personally believe has the biggest potential as compared to any other market in the region,” Lodhi told e27.
His optimism stems from the fact that not only is Indonesia a large country but also from the point that the country “has the lowest taxi to population ratio in the region.”
The biggest challenge for Easy Taxi in the market is to train the drivers getting comfortable with the usability of a smartphone. Majority of the drivers in the country, according to Lodhi, still use feature phones. However, the Country Manager is surprised by the positive and enthusiastic response shown by the drivers. “Drivers come from all age and backgrounds. The adaptation is better than our expectation. They are picking up very quickly. That’s very encouraging,” he adds.
Besides training the drivers, Easy Taxi is also working with third party partners to avail deals, enabling cab drivers to acquire smartphones and discounted prices.
The second challenge for the company while could be a weak internet connection, but Lodhi is confident of the test pilot results so far. “We’ve tested our app in Jakarta and surrounding area, and we’ve noticed no problem. As the app is not that data intensive, it can rely on 3G network, and doesn’t require WiFi. It’s robust enough that it won’t crash due to lost connections,”he said.
Besides providing an easy access to a taxi, Easy Taxi claims to be working with the taxi drivers to raise passenger safety standards in the market. “Safety is our first priority,” says Lodhi, adding, “We only work with reputable taxi companies and we screen each driver before providing them training on usage of our app and the standard of services.”
Where’s the money?
Unlike India, where Easy Taxi would be taking the in-app advertising model to rake up revenues, in Indonesia, it is expected to charge the driver a flat fee per booking completed. However, the service would be free in the launch phase. That said, he clarifies that the passenger would be charged just the fare displayed by the meter. “In that way we do not interfere with government regulation,” the Country Manager said.
Easy Taxi works with both taxi companies and drivers directly, but Lodhi refuses to disclose the name of the companies at the moment.
Easy Taxi will localise the app for the country, which will allow users to give references for addresses. “You know sometimes street numbers are not accurate, so you can give reference information,” Lodhi states. The app will use Google Maps and Waze APIs to ping taxis in the radius of two kilometres.
Lodhi claims that the app can help cab drivers increase their earnings up to 50 per cent. “A driver usually would do 20 rides a day; now it can go up to 30 a day,” he said, adding that generally a taxi driver in Jakarta works up to 20 hours a day.