Sony will form Japanese alliance to build taxi-hailing system

Alicia Cross
February 20, 2018

Dara Khosrowshahi, in his first trip to Asia since becoming chief executive officer, made it clear that the ride-hailing company isn't about to scale back its business to just countries where it already has a strong market position. Khosrowshahi noted that Japan's traditional taxi firms have failed to keep up with the technological advances.

And local players Nihon Kotsu and Daiwa Motor Transportation announced plans in January to trial a taxi-sharing service.

Uber is pulling the brakes on its service in Morocco, which will cease on February 23, as it waits (and hopes) for local regulators to accommodate app-based ride-hailing.

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Sony's partnership is the latest in a growing array of tie-ups between taxi firms and tech companies, who see Japan as a potentially lucrative market but are prevented from offering ride-sharing services by stringent rules. The Sony Payment Service involvement will be to provide payment services for the new system.

Carmaker Toyota also announced an investment of ¥7.5 billion ($70 million) in the JapanTaxi app this month, which says it is the biggest taxi-hailing app in Japan.

The services developed will be offered to all platforms available to taxi operators that wish to participate across Japan. Didi plans to stick to taxi-hailing in Japan for now as well. By combining Uber's brand, technology, along with demand from tourists and partnerships with the taxi industry, he said the result would be a "win-win" for Uber and the taxi industry. As per Bloomberg, Khosrowshahi, who joined Uber last August, said he trusts Japan is an "extraordinarily opportunity", yet that the organization's past approach "honestly didn't work". SoftBank is an investor in Uber. But Uber saw four listless years in Japan, achieving less than 1 percent of monthly rides in Tokyo, the world's largest single cab market. The goal is to launch the new ride-hailing company this spring. "If you're going to do business with SoftBank, you have to get used to the way that they do business with your competition", he said.

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