Thailand Farewells Uber

Ride sharing service Uber is set to become a distant memory for users of the service, as the company announced on Monday March 26, 2018 they are combining their operations in Thailand with its competitor, Grab. The service will be transitioning across to the Grab platform from Sunday April 8th, 2018 at which time all services will be merged into their app.

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In February 2014 the ride sharing company, Uber launched in Bangkok with minimum fares starting from 75 Baht, around USD$2.30 & fares from downtown Bangkok to the airport approximately 1,000 Baht. However by December of 2014 problems began to occur for the company when Thailand officials ordered Uber to stop operating. A representative of Thailand's Department of Land Transport, Director-General Thiraphong Rodprasert said in an interview with media outlets including Reuters, at the time:

'Drivers picking up fare paying passengers via Uber's app were neither registered nor insured to drive commercial vehicles & that Uber's credit card payment system did not comply with regulations'. 'They have to stop operations immediately'.

His comments were made at the conclusion of a meeting with representatives from Uber & other rival ride-sharing companies GrabTaxi & EasyTaxi. As it was back then in Thailand & many other parts of the world today, traditional taxi drivers & operators have suffered large reductions in revenues since the advent of ride sharing.

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After this historic period of uncertainty the company never fully recovered & with this most recent announcement of the Uber/Grab merger, concern is growing now that a monopoly will soon exist, fueling concerns around pricing.

In Thailand, Uber’s app interacts with private vehicle owners & passengers to provide an on demand service. Their rivals GrabTaxi & EasyTaxi operate with a slight difference in that they work with 'traditional taxi' companies & utilize the 'taxi meter' to calculate the fare payable by passengers.

Countering concerns raised by loyal users of the Uber service, the company posted the following message on its Facebook site;

'After the transition, your Uber app will continue to display your account information & past trips, however it will no longer display any vehicles in Thailand'. You can continue to use the Uber app & service in all other markets globally where Uber operates.'

Country Head of Grab Thailand, Tarin Thaniyavarny recently spoke to The Bangkok Post stating that;

'Grab & Uber are working together to migrate Uber drivers & riders, Uber Eats customers, merchant partners & delivery partners to the Grab platform'.

Between now & the April 8th transition date, Uber will continue to provide users with access to their app giving Uber drivers time to sign-up & drive with Grab. Uber Eats will continue to operate through until the end of May, after which time Uber restaurant & delivery parters will transition across to the GrabFood platform. Uber for Business, a dedicated service for those employed by the company will no longer be supported in Southeast Asia once the transition has taken place.

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Backed by the two largest ride-sharing services in the world today, Grab is now supported by Uber & Didi Chuxing with backing by global investment company SoftBank. Times are changing, so it remains to be seen what lies ahead for consumers when it comes to a value proposition in the ride-sharing space in the future.

Farewell Uber, Hello Grab!

Sandra Hawkins

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