Malaysian taxi-booking app TaxiMonger has just expanded its service outside the capital city of Kuala Lumpur to cover Johor Bahru (the state sharing the border with Singapore). Additionally, it will run a Singapore-to-Johor service in a deal with cab operator JB-Tek, which currently runs that route.
The decision to expand its service coverage is set against a backdrop of an ongoing skirmish for smartphone-familiar drivers in Kuala Lumpur. This scene was described to me last month when I visited the state, where two of the main taxi apps, MyTeksi and Rocket-backed Easytaxi, were battling for a larger share of the drivers out there.
TaxiMonger’s CEO and co-founder, Nizran Noordin, said it’s tough getting drivers onboard, in spite of the touted benefits of being hooked up to a central app that alerts you of jobs.
Breaking down the cost, he said a driver makes on average US$40 a day, before deducting $20 for vehicle rental and petrol costs of about $10. With a meager salary, a $100 smartphone is still priced above a comfortable rate for many, he said.
Going through cab operators is tough as well, because of a fragmented market in Malaysia, where 31,000 taxis are opened by 210 companies. The companies aren’t providing Android devices, so TaxiMonger has been approaching individual drivers to try to get them onboard.
Rocket Internet’s Joon Chan also said only about 10 to 15 percent of drivers in the country have smartphones.
It seems TaxiMonger’s decision to expand coverage will provide it some respite for now from the current scene in Kuala Lumpur.
The app is free, and layers on a $0.63 (RM2) booking fee to be paid to the driver. MyTeksi, on the other hand, charges drivers between US$0.16 (50 sen) and US$0.30 (RM1) per successful pick-up.
TaxiMonger went through the SeedStartup program and launched in June 2012. Noordin says the company has 500 taxis registered, and has a deal with the airport taxi operator, covering another 2,000 cars.