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    Sep 18, 2015

    Easy Taxi exits S'pore after nearly 2 years

    CAB-BOOKING app Easy Taxi has wound up its operations in Singapore amid stiff competition, The Straits Times has learnt.

    While the Brazil-based start-up - which entered the market here in Dec 2013 - declined to reveal when it stopped operations, industry players said it was likely to have been late last month.

    An Easy Taxi spokesman from Brazil would confirm only that the company was "scaling down operations in the region", after entering Asia two years ago.

    "Highly funded competition and market dynamics have led us to centre our efforts in selected core markets in Latin America, Middle East and Africa," he said.

    Four other taxi-booking apps have launched here in the last two years: GrabTaxi, Hailo, MoobiTaxi and Uber. They allow passengers to book taxis from any of Singapore's six operators and match cabbies with customers via location-based technology.

    Since Easy Taxi started in 2012, it has received a total of US$77 million (S$108 million) from investors, but this figure is dwarfed by GrabTaxi's US$700 million, and Uber's US$8 billion. The latter two are big players in Asia.

    A source said Easy Taxi is also looking to consolidate its stronghold in Latin America. There, it occupies more than 80 per cent of the markets in Peru and Chile. The company also aims to stave off rival Uber, which many speculate will expand "aggressively" there.

    In Singapore, Easy Taxi had at one point employed as many as 50 staff, with more than 20,000 taxi drivers on its platform. When The Straits Times visited its office at the CT Hub along Kallang Avenue on Wednesday, it was locked up.

    Cabbies said that Easy Taxi began refunding them their driver credits early last month. To use the app, taxi drivers need to have accounts with Easy Taxi, from which the firm deducts its commission of 30 cents for successful bookings.

    Taxi driver Armstrong Ho, 47, said that he stopped receiving booking requests from the app late last month. He posted a comment on Easy Taxi's Facebook page but did not receive a reply.

    "They left without a sound and many drivers are not aware," said Mr Ho, who added that Easy Taxi does not have a cancellation policy, unlike Hailo and Uber, which can provide drivers with a $2 compensation if a passenger cancels.

    Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) also said it has been informed of Easy Taxi's decision to stop operating in Singapore.

    In May, a bill was passed requiring taxi app companies to register with the LTA and to comply with a regulatory framework.