The Thailand taxi company Howa announced today the launch of a new app called HaHa, meant to provide an alternative to Grab and Go-Jek in the country, according to the Bangkok Post.

The cool part of the app is that it will come with a Digital Metering Terminal, rather than the upfront fee of Grab or Go-Jek. Overcharging is a major problem that drives people towards ride booking apps which makes the the digital metering system a clever idea.

Howa wants to be to go-to app for advanced booking (three or more hours in advance). Thus, it will start by targetting hospitals, 5-star hotels and department stores.

HaHa is positioning itself as a high-class booking service.

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Howa also wants to implement a booking fee to incentivise drivers to pick up passengers. It would have a ceiling of THB100 (US$3.15).

Howa operates about 4,000 taxis and had been an ally of Uber before the American ride-hailing company left Southeast Asia. Howa had built its business on call-in booking and using a radio system for communication. Since the explosion of ride-hailing apps in Southeast Asia, Howa has seen its business model crumble.

4,000 taxis is clearly not sufficient to genuinely challenge Grab. Thus, Howa plans to scale the metering system, which the company hopes to have 20,000 drivers using in the future.

For drivers to get onboard the system, they need to pay a hefty THB30,000 (US$946) one time fee and then a THB3,500 (US$110) annual service fee.

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Riders can use a debit or credit card to pay and it is the first ride-hailing app in Thailand to use the Mastercard Masterpass digital payments system.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash