Women in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East region will have a more efficient way of hailing a taxi through a mobile taxi app launched yesterday.
Rocket Internet, the world’s largest incubator, has partnered up with iMena Holdings, an online investor, to launch Easy Taxi across the region.
iMena is investing US$7 million in Easy Taxi, the largest investment in a mobile app to date in the region.
The application went live in Saudi Arabia yesterday and will be rolled out across the region over the next few months. Rocket Internet is in talks with the Roads and Transport Authority in the UAE to launch the app here before the end of the year.
“In places like Saudi Arabia where it is hot and women do not feel comfortable standing outside waiting to get a taxi or do not trust the taxi drivers, this app will help them,” said Eyad Alkassar, the managing director at Rocket Internet.
Easy Taxi is intended to provide a simplified taxi booking service, working with selected taxi drivers. Users confirm a pickup point and order a taxi through the app. Within seconds the name, photo and car model or licence plate of the driver is sent to the customer’s smartphone along with the ability to follow the vehicle’s location in real time. Users can rate the taxi drivers and provide feedback.
The openness and transparency of the app is likely to appeal to women in particular, but Easy Taxi is intended for anyone in need of a taxi.
“We only sign up drivers that provide high-quality service,” said Mr Alkassar. “We think this service will change the landscape of transportation. This is not just a mobile app, we are here to build real infrastructure. We think there is a bigger need for technology than in established markets.”
Khaldoon Tabaza, an iMena co-founder and the managing director, believes the app is likely to reduce traffic as drivers will no longer need to drive around looking for customers and wasting energy.
Currently Easy Taxi is available in 15 markets across Latin America, Africa and Asia.
“We take successful models in Europe and the UAE and execute them in emerging markets,” said Mr Alkassar. “We have partnered with iMena as our local guys here. We have the global knowledge, they have the local network.”
Rocket Internet helped Groupon become an international company and a household name and is hoping to do the same with Easy Taxi. Rocket Internet raised $1 billion in funding in the past 12 months. It has been the fastest-growing company in Europe for the past five years.