Kakao calls a truce with taxi industry; launches no-refusal rides starting at 3000 won fare

Waygo Blue

Kakao and the taxi industry, which had been engaged in an extreme confrontation over carpooling services, have released “Korean Uber” as the first result of the compromise. There is no time limit and if you type a destination, taxis are allocated without a denial of a ride and you can receive a flexible fare system depending on demand and supply. However, like Uber, ordinary people may not operate and only taxi drivers can participate.

The passenger taxi service “Waygo,” which was released by a taxi carrier franchisee TAGO Solutions, will be divided into “Waygo Blue” and “Waygo Lady.” Waygo Blue is a ride-denial-free taxi, and Waygo Lady is a women-only taxi with a female driver. A total of 100 units started operations on the 20th. Both services are provided based on Kakao Talk and run on a full monthly salary.

The cost of calling Waygo Blue was set at 3,000 won(about US$3). It is the same concept as the existing ‘call fee’ and is charged an additional distance. “Although the basic cost of calling is 3,000 won, we are planning to apply a ‘flexible calling fee’ such as more cost for calling during times when demands are concentrated and lower cost for calling during times when demands are low.” said Oh Kwang-won, CEO of Waygo Blue. For the time being, the Waygo Lady will only operate on a reservation basis, and the operation fee will be up to 10,000 won(about US$10), flexible.

The company completed its approval from Seoul in February last year and 50 taxi companies participated, and about 600 workers are receiving training and preparing for the service. Its goal is to expand 3,000-4,000 units by the end of this year. Its strategy is to increase the number of female taxis and pet taxis to 20,000 by the end of this year. Waygo is significant because it combines Uber’s strengths with the features of the local taxi market. The company expects the driver to take 10,000 won salary per hour.

“We are going to solve rejection of the ride through Waygo and provide the same quality of transportation services with economy of scale, and it will be a model for companies and workers to share profits together,” said Oh Kwang-won, CEO of Waygo Blue. Kakao will fully support a number of technologies such as deep learning-based distribution systems, demand systems, and automatic payments, and make every effort to make the Waygo Blue more satisfying to you,” said Jung Ju-hwan, CEO of Kakao Mobility.

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