Hanoi taxi firms race to launch mobile apps as Uber, GrabTaxi thrive

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 A taxi with Vinasun App in Da Nang. Photo credit: Da Nang Today
Several taxi companies in northern Vietnam are rushing to create their own mobile apps for cab hailing for fear of losing their market share to foreign services Uber and GrabTaxi, news website VnExpress reported Tuesday.
An executive of a popular taxi company was quoted as saying that it has been running its new app on a trial basis, and results so far are positive.
The app will be officially launched this month with more than 3,000 taxis operating around the northern region, he said, adding that his company will introduce "the most competitive" fares for the new service.
With an initial cost of around US$500,000, the locally-developed application is compatible with all smartphone operation systems, according to the executive.
Another $1 million will be invested into future upgrades, he said.
Khuc Huu Thanh Hai, director of Dat Cang Transportation Trading and Services Joint Stock Company, which operates Dat Cang taxis in Hai Phong, said with the current "harsh competition" between traditional taxi services and foreign hailing services, local businesses cannot ignore the technology.
However, he said, compared to Uber and GrabTaxi, which were both launched in Vietnam last year and operate more like middlemen, local taxi companies have the advantages of operating their own cars.
Dat Cang plans to launch its cab-hailing app with more than 300 taxis in the first quarter next year. It will maintain a call center for customers who do not use smartphones, according to Hai.
It is not the first time local taxi companies publicly declare their competition against the foreign rivals.
Local media recently reported that many taxi companies in Hanoi ordered their drivers to stop picking up passengers via GrabTaxi, out of concerns that they will lose their own brand values.
They said passengers who use the booking service often know taxis which serve them collectively as GrabTaxi, and that some "dubious" drivers in the GrabTaxi's network can hurt their reputation.
Previously, in May, the Ho Chi Minh City-based Vinasun Corporation launched its Vinasun App in several southern and central provinces and cities.
Meanwhile, the transport ministry last month revealed its plan of creating its own Uber-like car booking service, promising that it will only collaborate with licensed companies.

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