Manila-based ride-hailing service U-Hop has raised US$7.4 million in seed funding, as first reported by Tech in Asia.

The funding consists of: US$2 million from a Philippine corporation with diversified interests and US$5.4 million from boutique investment banking firm Asian Alliance Investment Corporation.

According to the article, the funding will be channeled towards expansion in Asia, namely – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, India, and Japan.

It will also be used to develop U-Hop’s IT infrastructure, ramp up partnerships and hire over 500 new employees to oversee operations.

Just two weeks ago, it received approval from the Philippines Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to operate in the country.

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U-Hop differentiates itself from Uber and Grab by utilising shuttle vans that can fit up to seven people, a strategy the company justifies as both a means to ease traffic by getting private vehicles off the road and an option to get home safely.

Users pay the fares in advance, so a week of round-trip rides will cost P693 (US$14.83) per week or P2,970 (US$62.56) for a monthly subscription. Unlimited rides are P1,400 (US$29.96) for a week and P6,000 (US$128.40) for a month.

It also uses on a slightly different payment model for its employees. Rather than the driver earning money per trip, U-Hop designates a ‘service area’ for its vans and drivers will split the revenue from that area evenly amongst themselves. The idea is to prevent drivers from fighting with one another for fares.

The company also offers U-Hop Cars which uses private sedans much like Uber or GrabCar. It has also ventured into an electronic queueing system, chopper, yacht and private planes.