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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 18 August 2018

Dubai’s Careem to take on Uber worldwide with Chinese partner

The UAE-based ride-hailing company will join up with China's Yidao Yongche using London start-up Splyt Technologies to coordinate fleets globally.
Careem and Yidao Yongche will use the London-based start-up Splyt Technologies to coordinate their fleets and payments. Victor Besa for The National
Careem and Yidao Yongche will use the London-based start-up Splyt Technologies to coordinate their fleets and payments. Victor Besa for The National

As Uber Technologies reels from the sudden departure of its new president, it is also facing an alliance of rivals as smaller operators team up across different regions for ride hailing services.

Careem, the Dubai-based service will partner with China’s Yidao Yongche and share resources, according to a statement. They will use the London-based start-up Splyt Technologies to coordinate their fleets and payments so that passengers using one app can travel abroad to use the drivers of others without downloading new software.

Uber has been able to build leadership in ride-hailing with a single app that customers can use to get a ride around the world. Splyt is trying to negate that edge and chief executive Philipp Mintchin said his company’s technology connects with partners to help clients see available cars when they land. Splyt holds local bank accounts in regional currencies and makes its money by charging a commission on the currency exchange.

Splyt’s nascent effort resembles another recent alliance of much larger ride-sharing companies. In late 2015, Didi, Lyft, Southeast Asia’s Grab and Ola of India forged a four-way partnership to take on Uber.

Uber’s international expansion was last year dealt a blow when it sold its Chinese operation to Apple-backed Didi after spending billions of dollars to build its business in the country.

The alliance with Careem comes as Yidao, which is associated with Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, faces local media reports that it’s struggling to pay suppliers. The company denied those claims in a statement and said its business is running smoothly and preparing for an initial public offering.

Mr Mintchin said around 3.5 million cars on seven services in the Middle East, China, South America, France, Poland, Belgium and Nigeria were currently linked by the platform. Partners in Russia and Japan are expected to come on board within the next six months.

The challenge to the US ride-hailing juggernaut comes just as its president Jeff Jones said he is quitting after less than a year, amid multiple controversies engulfing the ride-hailing company.

The scandals range from allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic work culture to the combative behaviour of the chief executive Travis Kalanick. After a video was published last month showing Mr Kalanick berating an Uber driver, he said he would seek “leadership help” and was planning to hire a chief operating officer.

Mr Jones is not the only departure from Uber. Brian McClendon, a vice president responsible for the company’s mapping program, said he is leaving to return to his hometown in Kansas.

* Bloomberg

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