In Thailand, customers are not always the king. Rocket Internet-backed Easy Taxi, a taxi booking service, launched its app in the Southeast Asian country four months back with a slightly different revenue model, as compared to counterparts across the globe.
Instead of charging taxi drivers a fee for each transaction, like it does in other markets, Easy Taxi is drawing a THB 20 (US$0.63) sum from the passengers. At the moment, the fee goes directly to the drivers as an incentive to use the service, but Felipe Kasinsky, CEO, Easy Taxi Thailand, notes that when they eventually gain more traction, passengers will pay the company instead.
Kasinsky also tells e27 that the change in revenue model can be attributed to the comparatively lower local wages of taxi drivers in Thailand.
While he refused to disclose numbers for the local Thai market, Easy Taxi claims to have more than 60,000 taxis and three million passengers globally.
In Asia, the biggest markets go to Malaysia and Korea but this may change as the teams in Taiwan and Thailand rev up efforts in user acquisition.
Traditionally, in Bangkok (Thailand), there are often two camps of taxi passengers. The ones living in the city or places packed with those brightly coloured vehicles, do not have problems trying to flag one down. However, those living outside the city, will have to dial a taxi company in order to have one dispatched to wherever they are.
The process is usually time-consuming, but people don’t have an alternative. First, the caller will have to state his or her name, and phone number. Then, the company will try to look for a taxi. After an undetermined period of time, the company will call to inform if a taxi is available, or that no taxi is available.
Kasinsky says, “If you don’t plan it in advance, you’re wasting your time.”
Instead of competing with traditional taxi companies, Easy Taxi is taking a more diplomatic approach. By complementing the services available, which is the radio frequency that allows these companies to dispatch fleets, Kasinsky shares that Easy Taxi will help drivers manage their time while on the road looking for customers.
With a soft launch party hosted at co-working space HUBBA last night, Easy Taxi seems all set to drive sales. Kasinsky also says that he wishes to see more than 40,000 taxi drivers on the platform in the next two years. The company has been advertising on major social networks and outdoor platforms like in a taxi.
This author also asked Kasinsky if Easy Taxi Thailand will ever venture into motorcycle taxi booking, given that many people who live in alleys (or better known as ‘Soi’s) in Bangkok would call taxi companies for such vehicles as well. He says, “Not at the moment. The logistics might work a little differently.”
Kasinsky adds that the service is looking at entering Singapore very soon.