Convenience, security give new Myanmar ride-hailing app an edge

Ride-hailing apps are spreading throughout Asia and Myanmar is the latest country to jump on this increasingly popular bandwagon, with the planned launch of an Uber-style service.

Mr Saw Myo Chit, a 33-year-old father of two, is a driver for a local company and earns about US$300 a month. However, with a two-week-old newborn and a wife who is taking care of the children full-time, he wanted to boost his income. He recently signed up to be an Oway Ride driver.

“I was working five and a half days a week and had Sundays off, so I joined Oway Ride. This way, I can drive and earn extra money for my family,” said Mr Saw Myo Chit. “I hope to earn more than US$150.”

There may be opportunities to earn even more, as Myanmar’s taxis come under pressure from growing demand. Trying to flag down a cab in an increasingly busy Yangon and having to bargain for a price for the ride may become more of a hassle for some in the near future.

That is why the Oway Ride app is trying to plug a gap by allowing customers to book a ride at their convenience and to step into a clean and comfortable environment using a metered fare system.

Oway Ride offers three types of vehicles, from the standard economy to the higher-end Mercedes. Customers will likely have to pay more than for normal taxis, where there are no standard rates and fares are negotiated between drivers and passengers. But the app’s developers think plenty of people will be willing to pay a premium.

“There is a growing population in the country, whether it’s people coming back or expats (coming in),” said Oway founder and CEO Nay Aung. “There has always been a need and the need is more amplified now than before.”

Mr Nay Aung added: “There is a security component in that all the cars and drivers will be tracked 24/7 from our call centres, so should there be any issue on the consumer side, it’s just a phone call away to us.”

But some are not entirely convinced. Mr Dana Aung, the MD of Myantel, used to operate an app called Ho Ho last year. The app functioned like GrabTaxi, allowing customers to book an existing cab using their mobile phones. He shut the app down after just six months.

“Whenever the user tried to book a request, there would be a connection problem,” he said.
“And whenever there was a connection problem, the taxi driver would not receive the booking, creating confusion and disrupting the service. Also, the app uses up data, which adds to your phone bill.”

However, Mr Dana Aung admitted that if a new app offers more security and reliability to passengers, it may become popular. In fact, with better technology and connectivity, Myanmar may soon see more of such apps emerging.

Source: CNA


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