Kakao Inc. will plunge into the taxi business. With its user base by the millions of KakaoTalk members, it will establish a system by which users can call a taxi cab and check reviews of each and every chauffeur.
A Kakao official said on July 31, "We recently launched a task force to work on a new business of Kakao Taxi connecting passengers and taxi drivers based on a mobile app." This is a strategy leveraging its online network power to move into a new brick-and-mortar business. The number of KakaoTalk users within Korea is 37 million.
Kakao Taxi (tentative named) will be an Uber-like service by which the nearest car registered with the service arrives at the user's doorstep. The path which the taxi will take until the moment it arrives is provided in real time.
The biggest difference with Uber is the new service will take advantage of the existing taxi fleets numbering 250,000 within the country. Uber caused stir by using privately owned cars and rental cars, for which taxi drivers complained vehemently that they are taking business away from legally licensed operators. Recently the Seoul Metropolitan City Government banned Uber for safety concerns.
Kakao will introduce a new banking service "Bank Wallet" in partnership with 15 commercial banks by September at the earliest. Once the service is up and running, the company plans to make it possible for taxi users to pay the fare with the app.
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