War of the taxi apps?
THE operators of two popular mobile apps which help commuters book taxis in Singapore are locked in battle, with one accusing the other of playing dirty.
In one corner is Easy Taxi Singapore, whose app allows customers to book cabs with any of the six taxi operators here.
In the other is GrabTaxi, which offers a similar service.
Easy Taxi has alleged that drivers who downloaded both apps to receive bookings are receiving pop-up notifications that say Easy Taxi is an "unapproved app" and "must be uninstalled".
The company cried foul and has lodged a complaint with Competition Commission Singapore, the government body which oversees fair competition here.
Easy Taxi's director of business development, Mr Kevin Tay, told MyPaper that this has happened at least 30 times, based on feedback from cabbies.
He claimed that the notification has also been sent to taxi drivers in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, where both apps are also used.
"If we apply the same logic, Facebook Messenger could block WhatsApp, and Candy Crush could block Angry Birds," he said.
Calling it an "anti-competitive move", he said the notifications have "disrupted" Easy Taxi's operations.
But GrabTaxi has hit back, saying nothing sinister was intended.
A spokesman said the notifications were introduced because the company realised that "conflicting apps impacted the efficiency and effectiveness" of its own app.
The issue has since been resolved, and the notification was removed "some time back" from the apps in all four countries. Drivers who still receive the notification can seek assistance from GrabTaxi, said the spokesman.
Easy Taxi remains unconvinced.
Mr Tay said he is still getting reports of such notifications, some as recent as last Tuesday.
"The pop-ups happen on and off. We had instances last month in which the notification did not appear for a full day, only to pop up the next day. The Easy Taxi team in Malaysia has seen similar situations," he added.
Easy Taxi was launched here last month, while GrabTaxi started two months earlier.
Easy Taxi said it has 100,000 drivers and four million active users across 21 countries.
GrabTaxi has 86,000 monthly users in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. It has been downloaded over 600,000 times.
Last month, GrabTaxi decided to discontinue its reward system, which allows passengers to tip drivers for a cab.
This came after discussions with the Land Transport Authority, which has said that it does not regulate third-party taxi apps but is reviewing their impact.