Alibaba is heating up the Chinese taxi hailing ring by partnering with now industry veteran Uber.
Since its conception four years ago, Uber has become synonyms with taxi and black card hailing services and has grown to now offer support in over 70 cities.
China’s smartphone taxi hailing realm has shown stiff competition from Ecommerce juggernauts like Alibaba and Tencent. Both firms offer taxi hailing through their respective services, with Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat. In addition both firms have linked themselves with proprietary hailing services. Tencent partnered with local Didi Dache and Alibaba with Kuaidi Dache. Now it would seem Alibaba is interested in offering taxi payments through more channels with Uber.
The service in China will differ slightly than other countries where Uber operates. When hailing a taxi through the app, the user is presented with an option to choose a taxi cab, a standard black car, a luxury black car, and a black SUV, each with its own price point. According to Uber president Trevor Kalanick, he was inspired by Starbucks coffee which is able to offer an experience and atmosphere rather than just coffee. Uber will offer, usually an Audi A6 that will arrive in about 6 minutes from hailing it. Also, drivers, required to wear a uniform and tie, will be obligated to open the door for customers.
Prices are 37 yuan (US$6) for the first 10 minutes, 20 yuan (US$3.30) higher than common taxis, and will then result in local taxi fare for the remainder of the ride.
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It is a rare sight to see a western firm enter the Chinese market, albeit Uber is entering under Alibaba’s wing. The Chinese Ecommerce market is dominated by local players such as Alibaba and Tencent. Now that Alibaba is offering a black car service in China it will be interesting to see if main rival Tencent will return with its own version.
Uber is no stranger to partnering with large Ecommerce firms to offer in app payment and recently was the first mobile application to offer PayPal’s new SDK with in-app integration.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia