Meet Startup @TW

Uber's Headache and Dilemma in Taiwan

shutterstock

Taiwan’s government has put yet another roadblock in the way of San Francisco-based Uber.

The disruptive ride-hailing app will soon be required to charge passengers either an hourly or daily fare to protect the business of local taxi drivers, Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications said.

This is the latest in series of headaches for the American tech company that began after it entered the Taiwanese market in 2013.

Uber claimed to be an internet-based technology platform but local taxi companies and government officials alike said this was a misrepresentation and it should be classed as a transportation company. At one point in 2016, the government even considered ordering Uber Technologies to leave the domestic market.

In February 2017, the company halted operations for two months after its fines issued by the MOTC for unlicensed ride-sharing services increased to as much as US$825 873 (NT$25 million.)

Following negotiations with Taiwan’s government, Uber resumed services in April 2017 after it came up with an updated business model that included partnering with licensed car rental companies.
Now the Taiwanese government has upended these plans.

Originally car rental companies were permitted to apply rates as taxis do according to the distance covered and time travelled.

Now the MOTC(Ministry of Transportation and Communications) says it will amend laws over the next two months to require rental car companies working with Uber to adopt hourly or day-based rates. Under the new proposal from the MOTC, rental car drivers working with Uber will also be prohibited from driving around to look for passengers.

The MOTC claims this will create a “fairer” competitive environment, with many of Taiwan’s some 88,000 taxi drivers complaining they are losing business.

However, some argue that the entrance of Uber into Taiwan's market has provided them with opportunities.

The Taipei Passenger Car Rental Association is threatening to mobilize 170,000 rental cars in a street protest if the MOTC's proposed amendments are not withdrawn, according to Focus Taiwan, a local media outlet.

This sudden change in the rules will hurt the livelihoods of workers involved in Taiwan's rental car market and potentially affect 100,000 families, Focus Taiwan said.

Founded in 2009, Uber Technologies has expanded all over the globe. According to Statista, Uber Technologies is estimated to have 100 million worldwide users, with a 69% market share in the U.S. There are around 3 million active users of Uber in Taiwan.

Protests against Uber are a global trend

Taiwan is not the only nation to have seen complaints and street protests from taxi drivers.

A group of London black cab drivers is planning to take legal action against Uber in an effort to claim "millions of pounds in lost earnings,” according to a BBC report in 2018.

Cities in Spain that include Valencia, Malaga and Zaragoza also saw protests against Uber in 2018, leading to traffic disruptions, according to Bloomberg.

The Hague in the Netherlands, estimates 200 traditional Dutch taxi drivers are eager to hand over a petition to the government for fairer competition.

In conclusion, clashes between traditional taxi drivers and Uber Technologies drivers are commonly seen worldwide.

Feliciana Hsu
English journalist and PR for Global Affairs

Feliciana gained her MSc of Media Power and Public Affairs from Royal Holloway, University of London.

After graduating from London, she started her career of being journalist at Business Next Media and Meet Startup @TW Website, and specializes in interviewing about innovation and technology.

Within her career, she has interviewed various experts in their field, including Mr.Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; Fleur Pellerin, former French Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic in 2010.