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Uber rival to enter Mérida, sending real taxis

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Easy Taxi’s second-largest market in Mexico. Photo: Facebook

Mérida, Yucatán — Add another name to the list of companies that let you summon a ride with a smartphone.

Easy Taxi has announced it is coming to Mérida, and is investing 250 million pesos in Mexico to give Uber, Ryde, Cabify and others some competition. A precise starting date was not disclosed.

As the name implies, Easy Taxi works only with vetted taxi drivers. No private cars are used for the service.

But other than that, the drill is familiar. Customers download an app on their iOS or Android smartphone, register their information — in this case, a Facebook sign-on should work — and hail a cab to where they are standing.

The transaction is seamless because payment is made with a credit card already registered with the app.

Jorge Pilo, Global CEO of Easy, said his company is increasing investment in all markets, including Mexico, as it expands this year.

Already the company operates in other Mexican cities — León, Cancún, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla and Querétaro — and projects 40 percent growth in the next six months as they enter Mexico City, Toluca and Mérida.

Easy Taxi is in 170 cities across Latin America, including Brazil, where they began in 2011.

The platform boasts about 32 million users and 1.5 million drivers globally.

Taxis charge a commission of between 15 and 20 percent, depending on the city, for using the platform. The average fare is around 80 pesos, according to a company official.

An Asia expansion failed in 2015, but in the Latin American market, Easy Taxi covers more cities than Uber currently does.

Pilo said that electronic payments represent a growing trend among customers, even though cash has been king in taxis since they were invented.

Much of the investment will go toward brand recognition.

“People still do not know us,” Pilo said.

Uber, however, isn’t going away.

The U.S.-based company announced it will invest over US$360 million in Mexico with the goal of more than doubling its drivers by the end of next year.

Mexico is the third largest market for Uber, with about 7 million registered users.

Taxi drivers here earlier attempted to enter the modern world with Mi Taxi Yucatán, an app that has apparently not made much of an impact on the business.

Sources: El Universal, Tech Crunch, El Financiero

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