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Uber Mobile World Congress

Messaging app Kakao’s taxi service already has 84% of Seoul’s drivers signed up


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

February 25, 2016 | 2 min read

Kakao Taxi, an Uber-like on demand taxi service that sits within popular South Korean messaging app Kakao Talk, managed to get 84 per cent of taxi drivers in Seoul signed up in under 10 months.

Unlike many other on-demand taxi apps, Kakao managed to avoid causing controversy by working with taxi firms and the government to agree deals and help get drivers signed up, according to John Jung, chief business officer at Kakao.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress this week, he discussed the hurdles the business had to overcome to get a non-tech savvy industry to agree to its new idea.

The service now has 210,000 of Seoul’s 250,000 drivers signed up and has amassed a total of 80 million journeys.

“We met 200 taxi companies in three months and convinced them to join us. They are not tech savvy, a lot of the offices don't even use computers. We had to explain what an App Store was. It took us five to six times meeting to come to an agreement, we also spoke to the taxi driver union and the government to make sure we operated legally,” said Jung.

Jung said the business, which started life as a messaging app, is now turning into an ecosystem.

“We have conquered messaging but we want to disrupt the pain points of daily life,” he explained.

He said the company was going to take the model it created for taxis and work out how it can disrupt other businesses, such as beauty or deliveries.

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